The Overcautious Approach Fails Again: Mitchell Starc Out Of Boxing Day Test

Are selectors going overboard with bowling rotations?

Robert Whiteby Robert White

The latest criticism of Test cricket is set to once again receive rigorous debate as Australian selectors decided to take the overcautious approach and leave pace bowler Mitchell Starc at home for Wednesday’s Boxing Day Test.

Starc is coming off possibly his best performance for Australia with the ball against Sri Lanka last week and is believed to be unhappy with the rotation decision considering his recent form, but concern that his workload is out of control has led to Jackson Bird receiving his debut call-up for big match.

Among the many critics against the purposeful resting of bowlers is former Test speedster Brett Lee. He was against the selectors’ decision to rest Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus earlier this month in the final Test against South Africa and for many it is a soft approach compared to the approach of previous decades.

“It’s nothing to do with the planning. That’s what Test cricket’s about – a test of character, a test of courage and backing up within a couple of days,” said Lee prior to the first Test in Perth.

Current fast bowler Mitchell Johnson is another not in favour with his country’s rotation policy.

''There's obviously a process with it but, personally, I wouldn't want to miss a Test match. I think Test matches are the pinnacle of cricket,'' said Johnson

The Australians currently have seven fast bowlers on the side lines injured, but they at least have precedent for resting Starc; in January selectors opted to continue playing James Pattinson at the Sydney Test despite the youngster fighting a heavy workload. He suffered a stress-related foot injury and hasn’t been right since. The move also went a long way towards the Aussies losing the Test against the West Indies.

Chairman of selectors John Inverarity explained the science behind the decision.

"It's bowling loads. The science behind it is they've got to build up their bowling loads so the oscillations (variations) are not very significant," said Inverarity.

"If they do become significant, as they have for Mitchell, you enter a danger period, a high-risk period. He has entered that now. We don't want a high-risk strategy.

"This has been going on for 12 months with Mitchell Starc. We have been talking about these things.

Inverarity also declared captain Michael Clarke a 50/50 chance of suiting up Wednesday.

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Follow Robert White on Twitter @RobertWhitebrrr.