Four years after breaking Kiwi hearts by cleaning up Brendon McCullum in the 2015 World Cup final, Starc has left their bid to win a first series in Australia in 34 years in disarray.
In the years to come, this summer will be looked upon as the one which marked Starc’s second coming as a world force.
The left-armer could not have responded to his Ashes snubbing in more emphatic fashion, his 5/52 the second time in as many games he has claimed a bag of five or more.
Even if there was to again be the emphasis on economy, as there was in England, Starc’s would still be among the first names written on the team sheet such is his ability to strike. In any case, it’s hard to recall a time when Starc has bowled with as much control after minor tinkers to his action.
The queries which emerged 12 months ago over his ability to dismiss top-class players can now be dismissed. His list of victims here would be the envy of any bowler, including the mighty Kane Williamson and recent top 10 batsmen Tom Latham and Henry Nicholls.
His next challenge will be to transfer this form to the red ball though in Starc’s current mood few would dare undersell him.
He completed his 13th five-for with a vicious to Colin de Grandhomme, which umpire Aleem Dar deemed to have clipped the batsman’s glove. The minor spikes in the real time snicko foiled de Grandhomme’s request for the verdict to be overturned.
Four years ago, Starc was a sceptic of day/night Tests and the pink ball. He still is. Despite his personal success under lights, Australia’s perfect record and the improvement ball manufacturer Kookaburra have made to the product, his position has not budged.
Asked if he enjoyed playing in such games, Starc, whose pink ball record of 38 wickets at 20 is vastly superior to his overall numbers, replied: “I seem to take wickets. Don’t overdo it, I say.
“It’s great for cricket but I’m still a traditionalist at heart, so don’t take away too many from the red-ball game.”
Despite his aversion to day/night Tests, he seemed to enjoy raising the pink ball to the crowd to celebrate his milestone. When he returns home to Sydney, he will have to find more space in his trophy cabinet to house his latest pink ball memento.
If New Zealand are to break their long drought in Australia, their support cast had better quickly learn their lines.
While Williamson’s rise as one of the game’s elite batsmen has been a key to the Black Caps’ surge up the Test rankings, the emergence of the likes of Latham, BJ Watling and Nicholls as bona fide internationals has made them difficult to beat.
The trio have failed to fire a shot thus far, leaving New Zealand in a familiar position on these shores.
They will need to show a lot more in the second innings if the Black Caps are to save the game.
Australia were 0/1 at lunch on the third day, a lead 251 after they skittled the Black Caps for 166.
Andrew Wu writes on cricket and AFL for The Sydney Morning Herald