Speaking at SEN's Breakfast With Vossy, following Warne's call to drop Starc from the Ashes opener at the Gabba, Lee backed the out-of-form left-arm pacer to deliver match-winning spells against England this summer.
"Pat Cummins, the skipper, and Josh Hazlewood, they’re definitely two of the first picked. And I’m going to go with Mitchell Starc. You need experience when you’re playing in such a big series. A lot of people are calling for (Starc’s) head on the chopping block. I’m not going down that road."
"I’m going to say Mitchell Starc can produce an incredible Ashes series if he can get the ball to swing back at 150km/h, which he’s very, very capable of.”
However, Lee conceded that if Starc fails to deliver in the first couple of Tests then he should make way for the reserve quicks. Lee said:
''If I’m wrong and he doesn’t perform in the first couple of Tests, well (it’s) fair enough (for him to be dropped). I just back Mitchell Starc."
Responding to Lee's comments, Warne took to his Twitter account where he once again batted for Jhye Richardson to play in place in Starc at the Gabba. Warne wrote:
"I agree with Brett, if Starc was bowling fast and swinging the ball he’s a match-winner. But he’s bowling mid 130’s and not swinging it. He averaged 70 per wicket last summer to the top 6. Plus his recent WC form was horrible. He went for 60 runs in 4 overs. Richardson must play."
Starc has been off-color across formats for some time now. Last summer, he averaged over 40 in four Tests against India. Even in the recent T20 World Cup which Australia won, Starc conceded 60 runs in four overs against New Zealand in the final.
"He’s just not bowling well enough" - Shane Warne on Mitchell Starc
Earlier, Warne had called out Starc for his poor displays across formats, especially in Test cricket and against the top-6 batters. He had also pointed at Nathan Lyon's underwhelming returns last summer. Warne wrote on Twitter:
"Numbers are really bad for Starc/Lyon in last 10 tests - especially to the top 6 batters were they averaged nearly 70 a wicket last summer. This is why they are both under pressure and need to start the series well. Lyon plays 1st test but surely Richardson instead of Starc."
“He (Starc) needs to find a bit of rhythm and some form. He had a really poor World Cup. He’s just not bowling well enough. It’s too important at the Gabba. I’m all for Jhye Richardson (replacing Starc in the team).”
This is not the first time that Warne has criticized Starc. Back in the 2014/15 season, the legendary cricketer famously called the left-arm quick 'soft'
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Starc then proceeded to respond with brilliant performances in the 50-over World Cup on home soil. It will be interesting to see how the veteran pacer reacts this time around.