By: Reuters | Melbourne | March 29, 2015 6:45 pm
At a World Cup dominated by batsmen and huge scores, it was an old-fashioned fast bowler who ultimately played the biggest role in Australia’s success.
Mitchell Starc, whose devastating pace and movement troubled almost every batsmen who faced him, was named player of the tournament after Australia wrapped up their fifth title with a seven-wicket over New Zealand on Sunday.
Glenn McGrath (2007) is the only other specialist bowler to have won the award but Starc was a popular choice after terrorising his opponents for the past six weeks.
“It’s nice to see bat dominate ball every now and again,” Starc told reporters. “There’s been some fantastic performances with both. Obviously, it’s been a couple of big scores, a couple of double tons… but it’s just been fantastic the whole tournament.”
Although New Zealand opener Martin Guptill and Chris Gayle scored double centuries during the World Cup, Starc was an obvious choice for the player of the tournament award.
He took 22 wickets, equal best with New Zealand seamer Trent Boult, but at a far better average of 10.18.
Perhaps the left-armer’s most telling contribution, however, came in the first over of Sunday’s final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground when he cleaned bowled New Zealand’s captain and most destructive batsman Brendon McCullum with a yorker.
The Black Caps never recovered and were bowled out for just 183 in the 45th over.
“He’s been a key player for them right from the beginning, and he’s been fantastic for the Kiwis to get them off to great starts,” Starc said.
“We knew we had to sort of assess him as he went because he’s very unpredictable. I think personally it was a bit of a planning game with (bowling coach) Craig McDermott about just bowling in pace and yorker to him first up.
“I’m not sure how that first one missed, but lucky the third one hit. There’s a lot of luck involved, but just nice to see that plan come off.”
For Starc, his award was also a vindication of his rising status in Australia’s bowling ranks. One of three left-arm fast bowlers, he has often been overshadowed by Mitchell Johnson and James Faulkner, who was named man of the match in the final.
He was also criticised this summer by Shane Warne for not being aggressive enough but proved all his doubters wrong and now hopes his form in the one-day game will help him play more tests.
“Over the last sort of 12 to 18 months I’ve really felt a part of the one-day team, really felt at home,” he said.
“I’d like to push into Test cricket now, but we’ve got a bit of a break now before any of the Tests, but still a lot of work to do with white and red ball. Just going to really enjoy this moment.”