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Skipper’s huge Starc praise as speedster stuns critics

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Put under an intense blowtorch before the summer started, Starc is surging towards man of the series honours in what is shaping as one of the most dominant Australian Ashes bowling performances since Mitchell Johnson in the whitewash of 2013-14.Starc (14 wickets at 19.64) might not get anywhere near Johnson’s record 37 wickets, but there are distinct similarities in the way he has put the fear of God into England’s shell-shocked top order and taken the big wickets in the big moments.Cummins said Starc has gone to a new level this summer.Ranked No. 8 on Australia’s all-time Test wicket-takers with 269, Starc’s strike rate of a wicket taken with every 48 balls he’s bowled is better than anyone above him on that list.That’s Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Dennis Lillee and Johnson among other legendary figures – in fact Cummins is the only Australian to have played more than 20 Tests with a better strike rate.Dismissed by critics as a toothless tiger when the ball isn’t swinging, Starc has set fire to those theories with a career-defining statement which Cummins said commands that the left-armer finally be shown the respect he deserves.“We saw last week in Adelaide how he lifted and led the attack. I actually think this summer he’s gone to a new level,” said Starc.“He’s experienced. He’s played 70 odd Test matches. But I think he’s found another gear.“With the ball that’s not swinging – he’s taking wickets consistently. Beating the outside edge consistently.“He’s been titanic for us.”Starc endured a difficult summer on and off the field last year against India, as he fought a brave, but private battle just to get himself up to play while his father was back at home suffering with terminal illness.There were calls for him to be dropped for Jhye Richardson for the first Test at the summer, but Cummins said the Australian camp reinforced to Starc that the heat on him was not coming from within.Starc’s last hour blitz of England late on day two at the MCG was decisive, as was the way he stood up to single-handedly lead a decimated attack in Adelaide when Cummins and Josh Hazlewood were absent.“At the start of the summer we spoke about how there is external pressure, but absolutely zero internal pressure,” said Cummins.“We know what a superstar he is. He’ll go down as one of the all-time great Aussie bowlers.“We’ve got to remember that sometimes.“He’s got a strike rate under 50. He’s taken 260 odd wickets. He showed his class in all conditions.“As a captain, I just feel so lucky that I’ve got someone like him in my team.“He’s a left-armer. You know when you give him the ball he’s just going to create something. I couldn’t be happier for him. Just a brilliant three test matches so far.”Langer mystery intensifies after curious Cummins callThe mystery surrounding Justin Langer’s future has intensified with Australian captain Pat Cummins choosing not to give the coach who had just retained the Ashes for the second time in 18 months a glowing endorsement.Two days after Cricket Australia chief executive Nick Hockley refused to guarantee Langer a contract extension, Cummins curiously played a straight bat when asked about the 51-year-old’s future after securing Ashes glory at the MCG on Tuesday.“I think we’ll savour this victory today and continue for the Ashes, and I don’t think today is the day to speculate on that,” Cummins said.“I think we’ll sit down all together after this series, or whenever his tenure is up and his contract is up for renewal, in a few months we’ll visit that then.”Catch every moment of The Ashes live and ad-break free during play on Kayo. New to Kayo? Try 14-days free now.Langer’s four-year deal expires midway through 2022. Last week Langer reaffirmed his desire to continue leading Australia in all three formats and after Ashes glory on the back of a T20 World Cup victory his stocks have never been higher.The MCG rout was the shortest Test played in Australia in 71 years as England was gone in less than 90 minutes on day three.Cummins heaped praise on selectors – which includes Langer – for picking local hero Scott Boland.“I thought it was a really brave call by the selectors to bring in Scotty for this game,” Cummins said.“Full credit – they’ve made the right call.”



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