Midge, Mitch and Medals: A World Cup love story
Alyssa Healy or Midge as she is affectionately known and Mitchell Starc have both collected plenty of silverware.
CHENNAI: No. 60 Jolimont Street, Jolimont, Victoria, Cricket Australia’s main office in Melbourne, has probably seen many ICC trophies over the years. So much so that Beth Mooney, Player of the Final from 2023 Women’s T20 World Cup, acknowledged it in her press conference adding, “Hopefully we can keep piling up those trophies in Jolimont Street.”
That is exactly what it is at this moment. A pile of trophies. Their senior men’s and women’s teams share 12 ODI World Cups, seven T20I World Cups, two Champions Trophies, and one World Test Championship trophy between them. Some 900 km away from Jolimont Street, in Sydney, there is one particular household that has played some role in half of those triumphs.
Alyssa Healy or Midge as she is affectionately known and Mitchell Starc sure have their winner’s medals to show for it. And former Australian captain Lisa Sthalekar knows what sets them apart as cricketers in the moments that matter the most. “They are highly competitive,” Sthalekar told The New Indian Express. “They seek those big occasions as opportunities. They don’t necessarily shy away from it. They want to be the person to break open the game, whether it be with the bat or with the ball. Because sometimes when the pressure’s on, there are some players who are happy just to kind of fold in behind other people. But I think those two are very competitive and lead from the front,” she added.
That competitiveness has played a crucial role in their personal performances at the highest level. Starc was the Player of the Tournament in 2015 with his 22 wickets across eight matches, while Healy has bagged the same award on two occasions, once in the 2018 T20 World Cup and four years later in 2022 in the women’s ODI WC. While Healy’s exceptional ball striking has helped her team take the game head-on with the bat, Sthalekar believes Starc’s evolving game makes him one of the best bowlers in the world.
“I think he’s certainly over the years been able to learn new skills, learn to adapt, and work hard on his technique. So his strengths are his pace and the ability to swing it. And then obviously, with the red ball, he’s kind of brought in that wobble scene which has made him more effective for right-handers. He keeps evolving. Mitch, I think, has worked hard. When he first came on the scene, he bowled it quickly and he was able to swing it then you need to be able to do other things than just that you can’t be a one-trick pony. So he’s certainly been able to add more to his repertoire,” Sthaleker analysed. That is why, even after a quiet tournament by his standard in India this year after 27 wickets in the previous edition in England, Starc is still one of those players who can change the game for Australia.
Even as the world witnesses their competitiveness on the ground, Sthalekar shares how humble the couple is behind the scenes. “Who they are on social media and how they interact. In front of the camera is exactly how they act behind the camera. I think that’s also what makes them really special. They’re very humble, both of them. They understand their place in the game. They understand the history of the game and they acknowledge the past players regularly. They haven’t changed who they are over the years. So the fame, the fortune, whatever you want to call it, hasn’t gotten to them at any stage,” Sthalekar, who has seen the couple grow on and off the field, added.
Even with their busy schedules for their respective teams, Healy and Starc are a constant presence at each other’s fixtures. Whether it was Starc leaving his tour of South Africa early to witness his wife smash a record-breaking half-century at the MCG in the T20 World Cup final or Healy supporting her husband during the WTC final earlier this year.
We will soon find out if Australia will add another trophy to that pile at Jolimont Street. No matter what happens in Ahmedabad, many cricketing nations still need a lot of time to catch up with the medal cabinet of the “Stealy” household in Sydney.