LONDON – Australia pace bowler Mitchell Starc revealed a breakfast confrontation with a bantering fan inspired his ferocious spell in Tuesday's World Cup win against England.
Starc's wife Alyssa Healy, who plays for the Australia Women's team, brought the incident to light on Twitter, claiming an England supporter had fired up her husband with his taunts at the team hotel earlier in the day.
Starc confirmed he had been targeted but insisted the jibes weren't especially hurtful.
“I was still half-asleep. It was some bloke in a suit, having a go at my strapping tape and having a go at my bowling. I was just hungry,” he said after taking four wickets in Australia's 64-run win over their old rivals at Lord's.
“He was just having a laugh at my strapping tape and what I was eating. I had a few poached eggs, three I think.
“It's all been good fun throughout the tour around the crowds and at the hotel. It's just part and parcel of a World Cup.”
Starc believes the holders' comprehensive win was the perfect preparation for the World Cup knockout stages after Aaron Finch's side sealed a place in the semi-finals.
Australia dominated from start to finish against one of their main rivals for the title and Starc expects the impressive performance to stand them in good stead in the latter stages of the tournament.
“It's an interesting one. It's a World Cup. I guess playing at Lord's today, where the final is going to be, is great for us,” he said.
“Obviously we are into the semi-finals now so we have to make sure we play some good cricket, finish as high as we can in the group and hopefully get into that final.”
Australia have two games left in the 10-team pool stage before the semi-finals begin and next up for the leaders is a clash with fellow title contenders New Zealand on Saturday.
Statement of intent
Starc urged his team not to rest on their laurels and use the New Zealand clash to make another statement of intent.
“Now we've got to play New Zealand, which is going to be tough for us,” he said. “They have gone under the radar. No-one has really spoken about them too much but they keep winning games.
“They are playing some fantastic cricket. Kane Williamson is obviously their lynch-pin and they have good bowlers who swing it. It's another big game.”
After a third defeat in the event, hosts England are now in danger of failing to qualify for the semi-finals despite starting the World Cup as favourites due to their status as the world's top-ranked ODI side.
Starc doesn't believe the comfortable nature of Australia's success doesn't mean England should be written off just yet.
“England are a heck of a side and I think they are still definitely favourites, but they've got some work to do,” he said.
Starc had plenty to do with England's downfall as he ripped the heart out of their batting line-up, with an assist from Jason Behrendorff, who grabbed his first five-wicket ODI haul.
The decisive blow came when Starc produced a stunning yorker to bowl Ben Stokes, effectively removing England's last line of resistence.
“He's a fantastic player one of their key batters, watching that game against Sri Lanka he nearly got them home with that 80-odd he scored,” Starc said.
“We knew while he was batting we couldn't rest up and cruise. We had to keep taking wickets. Fortunately I got one through the gate.
“I've said it for a while, execution is a big part of this bowling group and me personally as well.”
Agence France-Presse (AFP)