It was only a matter of time before Australia paceman Mitchell Starc left his mark on the Ashes series.
Starc played no part in the tourists’ win at Edgbaston, a draw at Lord’s or England’s astonishing triumph at Headingley.
The left-arm quick was unleashed for the pivotal fourth Test at Old Trafford, but was expensive with his radar off on day three as Australia looked to strengthen their grip on the match.
Starc’s time came when he was tossed the second new ball under grey skies in Manchester on the penultimate day.
England were in desperate need of something special when they resumed on 200-5 in reply to 497-8 declared, knowing a defeat would put them 2-1 down and unable to regain the urn.
Much rested on the shoulders on Ben Stokes, match-winner at Headingley with an astonishing unbeaten century, and Jonny Bairstow when they marched out at the start of the day.
Starc ensured neither man remained at the crease for long, roaring in from the Brian Statham End like a man on a mission with a point to prove.
Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins were outstanding on the third day as Starc sprayed it around.
It was a different story when the 29-year-old steamed in from the same end with a new missile in hand, generating late swing to clean Bairstow up with a sharp delivery.
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) September 7, 2019
He then claimed the huge scalp of Stokes, who nicked one that nipped away off the seam into the safe hands of Steve Smith.
Starc sent Stuart Broad’s off stump cartwheeling from the other end after lunch before Cummins bowled Jos Buttler to dismiss England for 301.
The lethal Starc finished with figures of 3-80 as he demonstrated Australia’s embarrassment of riches in the bowling department.
A first-innings lead of 196 has Tim Paine’s side scenting victory and Starc is surely not finished yet as they strive to keep the urn.