Mitchell Starc keeps promise to special fan with classy gesture


Mitchell Starc is a man of his word.

After the lunch break on Day 4, the Aussie fast bowler promised a young fan that, if Australia took the remaining nine Pakistan wickets by the end of the day, he would give the kid his boots.

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Starc himself was central to the hosts closing out a thrilling Test on Friday, taking four wickets to help dismiss the Pakistanis before the end of play and give Australia an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series, which means Australia retain the Benaud-Qadir trophy.

But even in the the chaos of celebrating a Boxing Day Test win, Australia’s fourth-highest wicket-taker of all time made sure he didn’t forget his word.

Long after play had finished and Australia had secured the epic win, Starc found that same youngster and handed him his spikes.

Mitchell Starc kept his promise to a lucky young kid. Credit: Cricket Australia

Starc’s gesture was indicative of the love within the Australian public that the men’s Test team has garnered in recent years under skipper Pat Cummins.

Hundreds of fans stayed back at the MCG after the final ball was bowled to get a glimpse of their heroes, who all stuck around to take photos and sign signatures.

“Twelve months ago, many wondered whether this Australian team led by Pat Cummins was liked by the Australian public,” SEN’s Bharat Sundaresun said after the match.

“After what has been a red-letter year it seems very clear that this Australian team led by Pat Cummins is loved by the Australian public as seen at the MCG.”

And alongside Starc, it was Cummins again who led the charge to drag his side over the line.

The skipper has completed a bumper 2023 by taking his second 10-wicket haul in Tests to power Australia to a thrilling 79-run win over Pakistan.

Cummins was rewarded with the Johnny Mullagh Medal as player of the Boxing Day Test, finishing with match figures of 10-97 — including 5-49 in the second innings — in one of the great fast bowling performances.

During the match he became the 10th Australian to pass 250 Test scalps and capped a superb year as captain.

Of those 10 Australian bowlers, Cummins has the best strike-rate (46.7) and second-best average (22.32) behind only Glenn McGrath.

Pat Cummins has taken 10 wickets for the match to lead Australia to a 79-run Test win over Pakistan. Credit: AAP

The prolific 30-year-old made all the crucial breakthroughs late on Friday as the hosts bowled Pakistan out for 237 to win the Test.

“Just elated to get over the line and win a tight one,” Cummins said.

Pakistan fought bravely during the entire match, but lost 5-18 during a chaotic finish to day four as Australia took the extra 30 minutes after the scheduled stumps to complete the victory.

Mohammad Rizwan and Salman Ali Agha threatened to push Pakistan towards a famous win and break a 28-year winless run in Tests in Australia.

Cummins ended the 67-run partnership between the pair in bizarre and dramatic fashion just 15 minutes before the scheduled close of play.

Australia reviewed a not-out call to Rizwan after a Cummins delivery flew into Alex Carey’s gloves.

But after a long review from the third umpire, Richard Illingworth deemed the ball had flicked Rizwan’s wristband that was connected to his gloves.

Pat Cummins was the player of the match with 10 wickets. Credit: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Rizwan was furious with the decision, with Pakistan 5-219 at the time and starting to believe they could pull off the country’s highest successful winning chase against Australia.

It was a rollicking end to one of the great MCG Tests, with Pakistan fighting harder than many touring nations usually do on Australian soil.

“A little bit twitchy there with about 100 runs to go and five wickets in hand,” Cummins said.

“There was a couple of moments where we really had to fight our way back into that Test match … just a sense of satisfaction after a good Test match victory.”

Cummins stood up in many moments, including claiming the crucial wicket of his opposing captain Shan Masood (60) before tea.

It was fitting Cummins had the final say at the end of Australian cricket’s busiest calendar year on record.

After going down 2-1 in a hard-fought series in India, Australia won their first World Test Championship final, retained the Ashes in England, and pulled off a major upset by defeating India in the World Cup decider in Ahmedabad.

“Just a huge year in all formats; a lot of success,” Cummins said.

“To top it off by winning a series at home, which we pride ourselves on doing, is a pretty satisfying way to finish off 2023.”

Pakistan were expected to be easy pickings for Cummins’ team in Australia, but if not for two easy dropped catches from Abdullah Shafique at first slip, the tourists could be celebrating a drought-breaking win.

Shafique put down Mitch Marsh when Australia were reeling at 4-46 in their second innings on Thursday.

The allrounder made Pakistan pay by smashing 96 to help Australia to a match-winning lead of 316.

“We made some mistakes that we lost the game,” Pakistan coach Mohammad Hafeez said.

“But as a team I believe that there were a lot of right positives within the team to win the game.”

With AAP

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