Last summer he played as his father’s last wish and now Mitchell Starc is on top of the cricket world again.
First-time Allan Border Medallist Mitchell Starc has said there were times in the last two years when he didn’t feel like playing, giving special thanks to wife Alyssa Healy for her support.
Completing a year that started with the loss of his father Paul, Starc claimed his first Allan Border Medal by a single vote from T20 World Cup-winning teammate Mitch Marsh.
The left-arm spearhead returned 43 wickets an average of 24.4 across all formats, in the last 12 months, 12 clear of the nation’s next best.
That tally included 19 in a triumphant Men‘s Ashes, highlighted by his yorker that bowled Rory Burns’ around his legs from the very first ball of the series and setting it alight.
Only captain Pat Cummins stood above him on the series‘ leading wicket takers’ list with 21.
But during that past year, questions about his form have not abated, especially battling through an Indian Test series that brought just 11 wickets and seven Sheffield matches which returned 16 – both at an average above 40 – all the while experiencing family pain the outside world was unaware of.
“The last two years, as life is at the moment, there’s a lot of ups and downs,” 31-year-old Starc said on Saturday.
“You find ways to adapt and what not, but it’s a reflection of the support base I have had throughout those two years as well.
“There’s certainly been times when I haven’t played my best cricket or certainly times over those two years where I didn’t want to play any cricket.
“I’m very thankful for my support networks and in particular (my wife) Alyssa, to play cricket at the highest level (and) be there to support me as well, I can’t thank her enough for that.”
A decision to move away from what was written on social media or in the media generally, cited many times previously, has kept Starc really level “through some good stuff and some not so good stuff.”
“I’ve got a wife that plays at the highest level and a couple of my closest mates who play International cricket, so I’ve got a pretty good sounding board in that regard. A lot of respective opinions in our change room as well.
“They’re the people I go out and play cricket with and they’re the opinions I value most.”
Starc was also crowned the Male One-Day International Player of the Year, for the first time, following dominant performances against the West Indies including 11 wickets in the Caribbean and a haul of 5-48 in the opening game.
Starc also averaged nearly 40 with the bat this Test summer just gone, playing such a pivotal part in being awarded the Allan Border medal, and importantly, was the only quick across both teams to play all five Tests.
“It goes back to the work you do behind the scenes, and the work you put in with S&Cs and time spent with physios and what not,“ Starc said.
“A huge thanks to the support staff, particularly Australian Men’s physio David Beakley to keep me on the park for five Test matches and keep me on the park for five.
“Nice little added bonus to get through five Test matches.”