Starc stands up without fellow quicks

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How different the day-night Ashes Test could have been if one fast bowler didn't ghost two of his best mates.

Pat Cummins' failure to text back Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon over Wednesday night dinner plans will go down in folklore, but could well have shaped the Ashes with Australia now 2-0 up.

Starc and Lyon's response to sit away from Cummins at an Adelaide restaurant saved them being classed as close contacts, and allowed them to play in the second Test.

And without Cummins and injured quick Josh Hazlewood, Starc made a point of taking the reins in his team's 275-run win.

The last time the left-armer played without both fellow members of his fast-bowling cartel, he took just four wickets at 44.25 on a two-Test series against Pakistan in the UAE.

Granted, Adelaide Oval with his favoured pink ball is far more friendly for Starc, but the past week has been close to his best in a Baggy Green.

The 31-year-old has had games where he has taken more wickets for Australia, but rarely has his role ever been so important.

In the first innings he was the man to help break England's back with his 4-37.

His effort to get rid of Dawid Malan for 80 stopped the tourists fighting back into the game after a wicketless first session on day three.

That scalp went with those of Rory Burns and Jos Buttler, after Starc toyed with the latter before nicking him off for a 15-ball duck.

"It was a little bit different for Nathan and I," Starc admitted on Saturday.

"We probably searched a little bit for wickets (in the opening hours of day three).

"Nathan and I probably took it on a little bit on ourselves being the two experienced ones in the attack (to fix that)."

Then on Sunday night and Monday afternoon he landed the killer blows again, dismissing Joe Root in a brutal end to day four.

And when he got Ollie Pope in the third over of day five, it should have been enough to open the door to victory until England lingered to within 21 overs of saving the Test.

While Starc's wickets were crucial, so too is the fact he has barely had a loose over in a game where there has been a responsibility to keep the pressure on.

"It's the best I have seen him bowl for a while," stand-in skipper Steve Smith said after the win.

"He summed up the conditions really well, he realised it wasn't swinging and he was just able to hit a really nice line and he did it all game.

"He took complete control.

"He led the attack really well and I'm really pleased for him and the rest of the bowling group as well."

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