Australian pace bowler Mitchell Starc has said that closing the gap between "the really good stuff" and the "not so good stuff" was the reason behind his Ashes success, adding that the Allan Border Medal for emerging the best Australian men's cricketer for 2021 was a "pleasant surprise".
Starc, whose all-round performance during the Ashes was the key to the hosts winning the series 4-0, received the highest individual award largely due to his exploits in the Test series against England, with the 31-year-old playing all five games and grabbing 19 wickets at an average of 25.37.
The 31-year-old Starc also became just the fifth pace bowler in 22 years to win the Medal to join the likes of Test skipper Pat Cummins, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee and Glenn McGrath as the only fast bowlers to win the top award since it was introduced in 2000.
The pacer was heavily scrutinized after his below-par performance in the 2020/21 series against India, where he took just 11 wickets at 40.72. To make matters worse, his performance in the ICC T20 World Cup in Dubai too left a lot to be desired, with Starc conceding 60 runs without taking a wicket in his four overs in the final.
Starc said he had worked upon certain aspects of his bowling in the last couple of months to make it more potent.
"Closing the gap between the really good stuff and the not so good stuff, it was a nice one to look back on, the last few months and certainly through the Ashes, probably one of my more consistent periods of time which has played a part in this (award) I guess," Starc told sen.com.au on Monday.
The left-arm pacer took 43 wickets at an average of 24.4 across all formats in the voting period to get 107 votes in the medal count, one more than Mitchell Marsh.
"I think it was more the consistency throughout the past six months that has been the main thing for me, one probably that I've spoken about and certainly knew within myself, that one of the things that I wanted to do was be more consistent," Starc added.
The pacer said that he was taken by surprise when he received a phone call informing him about the award.
"It was certainly a pleasant surprise. I was sitting at Manuka Oval watching the women's Test match and I got a phone call about it. It's been a hell of a year, cricket just like everyone out in the community has faced their own challenges for the last two years, for the group to come away with a World Cup win and an Ashes, it's been an awesome six months to be a part of Australian cricket."