• Starc targets England tail

    Mitchell Starc says England’s tail should expect to get peppered with hostile bowling during the Ashes as they look to exploit Stuart Broad’s loss of confidence with the bat.

    One of the features of the 5-0 whitewash in 2013-14 was the dismantling of England’s lower order – primarily through the express pace of Mitchell Johnson – whose last five wickets produced a paltry average return of just 50 first-innings runs in the series, compared with Australia’s 143.

    ‘We will definitely be coming hard at all their batsmen, especially the tail,’ Starc, who took 10 wickets during Australia’s recent 2-0 series win over West Indies, said.

    ‘They will definitely be coming hard at us; I am sure we will get our share of short balls as well.’

    A lot of focus will be on Broad who will look to redeem himself with the bat. His batting has shown signs of recovery this summer since he suffered a broken nose against India at Old Trafford last year, a blow which he claimed gave him nightmares and which caused a lack of form that led to calls for him to move down to No11 despite him boasting a Test best score of 169.

    ‘[Broad’s] batting has changed in the last period of time – he has lost a bit of that confidence as well and there has been a bit of chat about that,’ Starc said. ‘But he does not come in till later on. We have got to get through the top order first and foremost but we will not be making life easy for them at the back end either.’


    Pat Cummins is better prepared for his second coming in Test cricket than he was four years ago when he was thrown in the deep end as an 18-year-old rookie, says former Test seamer Geoff Lawson.

    Cummins has not played a first-class game in two years but Lawson, NSW’s bowling coach, has endorsed the move by national selectors to name the young gun as Ryan Harris’s replacement in the Ashes squad.

    Although Mitchell Johnson remains a force, Harris’s retirement is likely to start the changing of the guard in Australia’s pace battalion, resulting in next generation speedsters Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood featuring together for the first time on a Test tour.

    Cummins is still in Australia so would not be considered for the Ashes opener, starting Wednesday in Cardiff, but is now firmly in the frame to belatedly add to the only Test he played, against South Africa.

    Lawson was fiercely critical of the decision to play Cummins in 2011 but believes he is now better prepared for the demands of the five-day game.

    ‘He was too young. He hadn’t been toughened up by playing enough cricket, they just threw him in the deep end,’ Lawson told the Sydney Morning Herald.

    ‘They just tossed him in, they picked him too soon. He bowled OK, there was nothing wrong there but his body wasn’t ready for it.

    ‘Maybe his body is now I wouldn’t worry about what’s between the ears, he’s a pretty switched-on guy. He’s a very mature cricketer from that point of view, that’s not an issue.

    ‘He’s a young man who has experienced a great deal. I think he’s ready to play Test cricket.’