YORKSHIRE’s Mitchell Starc has revealed he wanted to make his name as a wicketkeeper before discovering by accident he could bowl at high pace.
The Australian star said he only took up bowling six years ago when he was told he would struggle to carve out a career behind the stumps.
The 22-year-old has since played four Tests and seven one-day internationals and is regarded as one of the game’s most promising prospects.
As Starc prepared for his second match in Yorkshire colours today, a floodlit CB40 fixture against Sussex at Hove (4.40pm start), he disclosed that his first love was wicketkeeping – not wiping up batsmen.
“I’ve only been bowling properly for about six years,” said Starc, who stands an imposing 6ft 4ins.
“Before that I was a wicketkeeper back home in Australia.
“It got to the point during an U-16s competition in Sydney when the coach said, ‘If you want to make this team, you’re going to have to start bowling’, so I had to learn from scratch.
“It seemed a good change at the time; I was probably too tall for wicketkeeping anyway,” he added.
Starc, who took three wickets on debut to help Yorkshire to a seven-wicket CB40 victory against Derbyshire on Sunday, does not conform to typical preconceptions of a fast bowler.
He is mild-mannered by nature and easy-going, while his run-up is smooth, controlled and relaxed.
He has little of the fast bowler’s in-your-face aggression, although his pace is up there with the best who have played.
Throughout history, anyone who can bowl 90mph and swing the ball has been a handful, as Derbyshire’s batsmen discovered at the weekend.
“It was good to finally get out there and have a bit of a run around,” said Starc, whose debut had been delayed due to problems with his visa.
“There has been a few flights involved to get to this stage and I’m just glad to be in England playing some cricket.
“It was a good win for the boys and we worked hard to bring it back after they (Derbyshire) got off to a good start.
“From a personal point of view the ball came out pretty well and I was just happy to contribute to a win.”
Starc, whose partner is Alyssa Healy, niece of former Australia wicketkeeper Ian Healy and a talented wicketkeeper in her own right, will again take the new ball at the County Ground, Hove.
Yorkshire will be aiming to make it two wins out of the three in the CB40 but, with only the top team from each of the three groups qualifying for the semi-finals, along with the best second-placed side, Starc knows there is little room for error.
“Only one team is guaranteed to go through from each group, so hopefully we can build some momentum,” he added.
“That’s certainly what the boys have done in the County Championship in the last few weeks and what we’ll be trying to do in this tournament as well.
“The boys have been going well lately and hopefully that continues.
“They have been great to me and very welcoming, and hopefully I can contribute to a few more wins.”
It is unclear at this stage how long Starc will be staying at Headingley.
He has been called up for Australia A’s tour of England, which runs from July 17 to August 17, and may possibly be asked to attend a pre-tour national training camp.
However, Yorkshire are confident they will have him for the majority of the summer as they chase their first domestic trophy for 10 years.
The player himself is keen to stay with the club for as long as possible.
“Common sense would say I’ll stay and play for Yorkshire before the A tour,” said Starc, who will make his Championship debut at home to Northamptonshire next week, “but we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.
“I’ll certainly be around for the next few weeks.”
Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale has travelled to Hove after he was initially expected to miss the match, along with Sunday’s game against Unicorns at Scarborough, due to a shoulder problem.
However, a scan has given Gale the all-clear.
Former England pace bowler Ryan Sidebottom is expected to play after being rested for the opening two CB40 games, while Adil Rashid is also in the party after being left out of the Derbyshire match.
Sussex sit on top of Group C after winning their opening two games – a 144-run thrashing of Unicorns at Hove and a 12-run victory away to Northamptonshire last Sunday.
The fixture at Northampton saw the return to first-team action of England all-rounder Luke Wright, who top-scored with 59.
Wright made a faster than expected recovery from a suspected case of Dengue Fever on top of tonsillitis contracted while in India for the Indian Premier League.