Starc spurred by ankle doubts
Having bowled as irresistibly as he did against West Indies at the WACA, it's little wonder that Mitchell Starc is earnestly hoping a bone spur in his ankle will not worsen to the point of requiring surgery during Australia's manic 2013 schedule.
Starc has already chosen to forego this year's IPL in order to rest after the forthcoming tour of India ahead of the Ashes. Now, after his frighteningly fast and swerving 5 for 20 to rout West Indies for 70, he conveyed his desire to put off surgery for as long as possible. A procedure to clean out the problem would require about three months in recovery - time Starc and Australia simply do not have this year.
"It's a calcification to protect the bone through the force the ankle cops when bowling, but obviously causes a bit of pain," Starc said in Perth. "You can feel it when you push on it, but it's not affecting my bowling at the moment. It's not something I want to go under the knife for and miss up to three months to clean it up, missing the time bowling and having to build yourself up.
"Three seasons ago I had two spurs in the same ankle and played two thirds of the season with it, so it's not an issue we're all worried about at the moment and I'm happy to play with it."
There have been a few times so far in his young career when Starc has looked unplayable, and this was one such day. Moving the ball at high pace and landing the ball repeatedly on a line and length to discomfort the best batsmen, much of Starc's bowling seemed wasted on a West Indies batting line-up that has been in Australia little more than a week and warmed up with a festival match on the Manuka Oval featherbed.
"There have been days when I've bowled a lot worse and taken more wickets," Starc said. "It all came together today, I felt very smooth and had enough pace but there was enough in the wicket also.
"You get that extra bounce and carry in Perth, we wanted to hit the stumps as often as we could and needed to get that fuller length. Sometimes the execution isn't quite there, but today all the bowlers executed very well.
"What we've spoken about is shortening the gap between our very good, like today, and our not so good, a bit of which you saw against Sri Lanka. If we can keep winning and closing that gap, we'll go a long way towards achieving our goals."
West Indies captain Darren Sammy did not concede he had erred by choosing to bat first, instead suggesting his batsmen should have re-adjusted their goals for a decent score once they had witnessed a few overs of the ball zipping around.
"It's disappointing, we know the plans and the goals we had for this tour, obviously it didn't start the way we wanted, but it's just the first game of a five-match series," Sammy said. "We've got to come back stronger on Sunday, dust ourselves off and believe we can be successful against them.
"We've had battles against Australia in the past, the last series at home they similarly won the first game very easily and we came back strongly for the rest of the series. We know we have the ability to bounce back, and that's what I'm going to tell the boys. Yes it's going to be hard to wipe what happened from the memory, but we've had good games against them and we'll think about the positive things."
Sammy took one point of solace from the debut of the tall young fast bowler Jason Holder, who extracted steep bounce and some movement though defending a pitiful total.
"In spite of what [Glenn] Maxwell was doing, coming hard at him, he kept his cool and bowled in some very good areas," Sammy said. "That's a plus for us and hopefully we can have much more runs to defend in the next game."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here