Mitchell Starc is IPL’s biggest flop so far; can he pull himself out of the pit?

Australian fast bowler Mitchell Starc is undergoing a terrible time in the ongoing IPL tournament. He had emerged as the highest paid player when he bagged a whopping contract of 24.75 crores from Kolkata Knight Riders. But so far he has failed to justify the expense that his team underwent in order to procure his services.

The 6 feet 6 inches tall fast bowler went wicketless in his first two games and then picked up two wickets before again slipping back to a barren display. In his first four matches he has taken only two wickets while conceding 154 runs. By any standards this is an extremely poor show and is definitely not what is expected from a bowler of his class.

Is the management of Kolkata Knight Riders regretting the decision to recruit Starc with an astronomical salary? That is difficult to say. No doubt they will prefer to wait and watch some more contests before jumping to any conclusion or deciding on the next step.

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To top it all, Starc’s form with the bat has not been good either. He is by no means useless at batting and can contribute valuable runs as a handy lower order batsman. He has ten half centuries to his name in Test cricket. But in the IPL his form with the bat has also plunged downwards. So the KKR fans are making their displeasure known on social media. One comment on Twitter (X) read: Starc is the worst and costliest blunder of this year’s IPL.

Why Does a player lose form?

It is difficult to pinpoint any particular reason for a player to suddenly lose his touch.  According to former England captain Mike Brearley who was also a reputed psychoanalyst and psychotherapist, loss of form has to do with the mental make-up of the player concerned. In the case of Starc, the huge contract must have given him a lot of joy but at the same time it may have created pressure in his mind to justify his contract by giving great performances in the field.

In such cases, the first failure compounds the pressure and then it just keeps building up. It takes a Herculean effort and sometimes psychological counselling, to help a player to come out of that unhappy frame of mind. In such circumstances, a few lucky breaks can ease the tension but so far dame luck has not been standing by his side.

Experience is his main asset

Starc’s biggest advantage is that he is a very experienced player. He is 34 years old and has played 89 Test matches, 121 ODIs, 60 T20Is and 139 first class matches. With that much experience behind him, he has undoubtedly faced such situations earlier in his career. He should know how to deal with it in his mind.

Family support will aid him

Moreover he comes from a family that knows all about sports and will provide support. His brother Brandon Starc is a high jumper who has taken part in the Olympic Games. Mitchell Starc’s wife Alyssa Healy is the captain of Australia’s women cricket team and the niece of former Australia wicket-keeper Ian Healy. So his family members will know what it is like to lose form and will provide useful tips and suggestions.

Starc now finds himself at the bottom of a deep well but the player as well as his team are hoping that he will climb out of the hole that he has fallen into. He has the potential and strength to rocket to the top of the charts once again. KKR’s fortunes in the IPL are heavily dependent upon Starc’s bowling. So the next few matches will determine whether the gamble of enlisting Starc with a huge amount was a wise decision or not.

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