MITCHELL JOHNSON: $4m man Mitchell Starc failing to meet expectations in IPL and will be feeling heat

Mitchell Johnson
The Nightly
Mitch Starc is finding it tough going as the IPL’s $4 million man.
Mitch Starc is finding it tough going as the IPL’s $4 million man. Credit: The Nightly

It sounds like a sweet deal, right?

And getting paid millions of dollars to go and play Twenty20 cricket in India for a couple of months is amazing.

But as Mitchell Starc is discovering, with big money comes big expectations and the veteran paceman has not been able to deliver as we approach the halfway point of the Indian Premier League.

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Starc, bought at auction for a record $4.4 million by Kolkata Knight Riders, topped the money charts but was ranked 38th on the wicket-takers list this week, with just six scalps from seven matches at an economy rate of 11.5 runs per over and an average of 47.8.

I’m sure some of you are saying “stop the whinging, they get paid so much money”, but the pressures of playing in the IPL are real.

After a long absence from the IPL to prioritise his international career, Starc obviously put himself in the auction pool – like many others – in the hope of getting the big bucks.

So far, Starc hasn’t quite got it right and he wouldn’t be happy with that. His best figures a few games ago of 3-28 were more like the Starc we know and what his team demands of their star overseas player.

This isn’t me having a dig at my ex-teammate. I can understand all sides of the situation. I totally get the way he is probably feeling right now, knowing the panic there would be from the team management and coaches for him to perform better.

And from KKR’s point of view, I totally understand that too. They paid top dollar and expect the very best from him. This goes for all teams that are paying millions for results.

I was never paid $4m to play in the IPL but I was paid very well when I was over there, and I remember the pressure of it. No matter which team I played for, and I did play for KKR in my last season, they want to be number one.

IPL teams go into the auction with a plan and strategy to buy the best team possible. But sometimes just buying up the “best” players doesn’t automatically mean you will have the best team. A combination of players who will bond together, be able to play for each other and look past who is earning what is vital.

Kolkata Knight Riders' Mitchell Starc (L) celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of Delhi Capitals' David Warner (R) during the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 cricket match between Delhi Capitals and Kolkata Knight Riders at the Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy cricket stadium in Visakhapatnam on April 3, 2024. (Photo by Dibyangshu SARKAR / AFP) / -- IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE --
One of Mitchell Starc’s few victims has been another Aussie veteran struggling in the IPL - David Warner. Credit: DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP

The word family was thrown around a lot in certain teams and I understand the reason for that, but it wasn’t always the case. Just saying it didn’t mean anything, you had to actually feel it and show each other that you were there to play for each other and back each other through it.

Starc’s team has put that faith in him so far, but the franchise is also under pressure from their massive fan base. The fans that follow and support each team let you know when they think you haven’t done a good enough job and will praise when you have. With social media being very popular in India, you don’t go under the radar unfortunately.

I’m not sure how Starc is going behind the scenes. I do know that he would be doing everything possible to play at his best. You need a bit of luck to go your way in T20 cricket and hopefully that will come.

The best thing to do when things aren’t going your way is to stay close to your teammates and grow that bond.

Show that you are part of that team and not in it just for the money like some fans might think. As much as that’s an easy accusation to throw around in the IPL, professional cricketers pride themselves on the job they are paid to do.

Starc’s current form may be a concern, but he has been one of Australia’s best in the shortest form for a long time.

If he can regain some confidence and plenty of wickets in the back end of the IPL season, he will be primed for the upcoming T20 World Cup.

National selectors won’t be too worried about how he is going. I know I would have him in my Australian team.

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