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Cricket-Australia keep faith in expensive Starc’s wicket-taking ability

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LONDON (Reuters) – Mitchell Starc may have leaked runs in the World Test Championship final against India but his wicket-taking ability is crucial to the balance of the Australia pace attack heading into the Ashes series against England, coach Andrew McDonald said on Monday.

The left-arm quick claimed four wickets but went for 5.34 runs an over – the most expensive performance in his 78-test career – at The Oval in London, where Australia triumphed by 209 runs with Scott Boland impressing the most among the Australian seamers.

While Pat Cummins is safe as the captain of the side, a fit-again Josh Hazlewood would join Starc and Boland in the race for the remaining two spots in Australia’s pace attack for the first Ashes test later this week.

McDonald said Starc was not the only bowler who went for runs against India and that the 33-year-old lent much balance to their pace attack.

“Most of our bowlers went at above what they’d usually go, and we’ve just got to get our heads around that the tempo will be slightly different,” McDonald told reporters before Australia moved to Edgbaston, which hosts the first test from Friday.

“Mitch went at a bit more than he generally goes at, but they complement each other really, really well.

“His wicket-taking ability is second-to-none. We’ve got to weigh all that up when we make decisions.”

Cummins also threw his weight behind Starc, tipping him to play a key role in the five-test series in England.

“He did a role for us that we know Starcy can do after 80 test matches,” Cummins said after Sunday’s win against India.

“He has got a huge tour ahead of him and will play a huge role for us.

“The English side sets up slightly different as well. There are a few more left-handers. The wicket is going to be a bit different.

“I’m really happy with where Starcy is.”

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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