Starc to delay surgery to play World T20
Mitchell Starc will delay surgery on his troublesome ankle in a bid to play in both the two-match Test series against New Zealand in February, as well as the World T20 in March.
Starc bowled just nine overs during Australia's three-wicket victory over New Zealand in Adelaide after suffering a stress fracture in his right foot. While there are concerns his pre-existing problems with bone spurs in his ankle may have contributed to the fracture, Starc is keen to get back into the Australia side as soon as possible.
"The foot won't rule me out for rest of summer, so no point doubling up and missing extra time with surgery," Starc said. "Once I get home I will talk to the medical staff and map it out and see what it looks like. I will let the bone heal for now.
"I will be in the boot for three or four weeks and reassess then. There is no point putting a time stamp on it until the bone heals."
CA's medical staff have been carefully monitoring Starc's ankle spurs for several months, and he required cortisone injections after the Perth Test.
"It has been going okay so it is frustrating that this has come up," Starc said. "I felt it crack that last ball. You never know when these things will pull up. The ankle has probably been in an okay place - it hasn't stopped me bowling or anything like that - and now the foot has popped up. It's frustrating, but there's not much I can do about it now."
The ankle will inevitably require surgery but the recovery period is unknown and, at a time when Australia's depth of fast bowling stocks is likely to be tested, Starc is unwilling to take the risk of sitting out of the game for an extended period of time.
"Depending on how much damage is in there and how much bone is broken off, that sort of thing, and whether there's more spurs or not, it's something I'll look at down the track," he said. "It's not something that I'm looking at doing right now."
The injury did not prevent Starc from batting, although eyebrows were raised when he limped out to join Peter Siddle at the crease ahead of Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon. Australia pushed for victory in the second innings amid concern as Starc hobbled between the wickets when Siddle hit the winning runs.
Captain Steven Smith suggested Starc had volunteered for the mission, but the bowler had a slightly different interpretation of events.
"Well the spinners were on, so he asked if I'd go out there and have a slog," Starc said with a wry smile. "I thought that might change when they took the spinner off but it ended up that I went out there.
"While the Marshes were out there, I was quite comfortable out on the couch in the back just watching - still nervous but watching. But things happened pretty quickly and I had to get the pads on. It was an interesting little period of play but glad we got over the line."
In the months leading up to the first day-night Test, Starc was one of the most vocal critics of the pink ball, and even in the afterglow of an event that has been widely hailed a raging success, there was a hint he may still have reservations about the ball's durability in other environments.
"I've got to be careful what I say. I obviously didn't take too much part in the game," Starc said. "I think leaving that extra bit of grass on the wicket and not having much of a [pitch] square out there obviously protected the ball, and it held up pretty well by the sounds of things.
"If they're going to keep doing that to wickets and squares it's going to be around for a while. It has been great. It was a fantastic match between bat and ball. I think that's what we're after, a pretty even contest.
"I think after the week we had in Perth, to come back and watch the Test match [with a lot more wickets falling] - which is pretty much what I did - was exciting.
"I think it was fantastic for the game, fantastic for the series, for it to finish the way it played out. I'm sure we're going to see more of it."
Melinda Farrell is a reporter at ESPNcricinfo