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‘The anti-Harmison’: How the world reacted to Mitchell Starc’s stunning first ball

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

After a tumultuous build-up to the 2021/22 Ashes, which involved off-field scandals in both England and Australia, the series got off to a spectacular start.

Armed with the new ball on a green Gabba pitch, Mitchell Starc knocked over Rory Burns after the England left-hander moved across his crease to expose his leg stump to a full and swinging delivery.

Starc, who faced question marks over his place in the Australian Test side from Shane Warne heading into the series, roared in delight as Burns departed for his sixth Test duck in 2021 – a record for a calendar year.

On only one previous occasion had there been a wicket off the first ball of an Ashes series: England’s Stan Worthington was sent on his way by Ernie McCormick at the Gabba in 1936.

For many, however, the modern reference point was Steve Harmison’s opening delivery of the 2006/07 Ashes, when the Englishman lost control and sent the ball into the hands of second slip. The ball would go on to symbolise a nightmare tour of Australia for the visitors, who finished on the wrong end of a 5-0 scoreline. Starc, on the other hand, was on the money straight away, leading to references of a Starc contrast.

There was plenty of support for Starc from some big names.

For England fans, it was all about looking on the bright side.

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