Australia news September 29, 2016

Starc eyes return to cricket in October

ESPNcricinfo staff

Mitchell Starc was scheduled to begin gym work on Wednesday and is aiming to be fit to play New South Wales' opening Sheffield Shield fixture on October 25 © AFP

Australia fast bowler Mitchell Starc may be back playing cricket in October after injuring his left leg in a freak accident. He was with the rest of the squad in Sydney earlier this month, taking part in a catching drill when he collided with training equipment. The laceration was so bad that he "could see a couple of bones" and needed approximately 30 stitches.

"The knee is fine, which is the biggest positive," Starc told the Cricket Australia website. "I didn't really think I did anything bad. It wasn't until the doc started talking about what could have happened and what might be an issue [that I started to worry] and I had to have an x-ray.

"When they were cleaning up the wound the nurse actually said 'There's your patella tendon, there's no nicks in it'. The fact that he could see my patella tendon was a bit of an issue."

Irrespective of the injury, Starc had been rested from the ODI tour of South Africa. He was phenomenal in the searing heat and on helpless pitches for fast bowlers in Sri Lanka - 24 wickets at 15.16 apiece and a strike-rate of 25.8 - and the team management had wanted to keep him fresh before the home season began in November with Test matches against South Africa and Pakistan.

But two weeks ago, during a routine practice session at Hurstville Oval, things took a bad turn.

"We were doing a fielding test as part of our Australian camp before the boys left for the South African tour," Starc said. "We were doing high catching out of a ball machine. It was quite a windy day so I've gone after this ball to try and catch it and it was getting away from me and [I] slid to catch it.

"The next part of the drill - which was meant to happen later down the track - was throwing down stumps, [which were] set up behind us. I unfortunately slid into the metal plate at the base of the stumps.

Irrespective of the injury, Mitchell Starc had been rested from the ODI tour of South Africa © Associated Press

"I caught the catch so I'm happy about that, but in the process took some large chunks out of my leg. I looked down and there was a big hole in the pants, [I] saw a flap of skin and threw my hand on it to try and stop anything that was going on. I couldn't see much. Then the pain started to get a lot stronger and kept hitting me and I thought something might be a bit worse. The doctors came over and I couldn't watch from there.

"I didn't quite know the extent until I was in the back of the ambulance when the doctor was explaining how bad it was. You [could] see a couple of bones. I didn't want to look at it at all. They numbed it pretty quickly so I couldn't feel too much."

Starc was treated at St George's Hospital for four days but has since returned home and was scheduled to begin working at the gym on Wednesday. While he was happy to "finally get back into some work," there was the odd inconvenience. "It's a weird feeling being in a knee brace not being able to bend my leg knowing that my knee is okay," he said. "It's just to keep the flaps of skin on there to heal properly.

Come October 25, however, Starc hoped to shift his inconveniences onto the opposition batsmen for that is when his state side New South Wales play their first match of the Sheffield Shield season - under lights - against Queensland.

"I want to play that one, and being a pink ball game at the Gabba it's going to be new for the NSW team and for me as well. That's still my goal, to be right for that Shield game and obviously we've got to factor in some workloads when I'm back bowling first and foremost.

"If that's out of the picture the next one is being right for the preparation for the first Test [against South Africa on November 3] and making sure I don't miss any games for Australia."