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January 24, 2013
David Warner is in. Michael Clarke and Matthew Wade probably are also. Not only will Shane Watson be there, he will be there bowling. Ryan Harris will be there trying to remind the world that he still can bowl. James Pattinson is headed there too. Michael Hussey will be there to remind Australian cricket of what it is missing. But Mitchell Starc will be a notable absentee.
When Australian cricketers talk of the IPL being a personal choice, they are completely correct. But the number of potential Ashes tourists likely to be spending their six-week designated rest period traipsing up and down India in the months before the Ashes in England suggests that only a few have elected to choose longer-term international goals over the up-front riches to be offered on the subcontinent.
The IPL's place in the calendar is not in dispute, nor is the tournament's desire for Australian cricketers. Nevertheless, no matter who ends up playing at the tournament and who does not, they will be a six-week period in which national selector John Inverarity, team-performance manager Pat Howard and coach Mickey Arthur will be a little more nervous about their players than usual.
The ways in which the tournament may cause harm are a matter for conjecture, but it is worth noting that not once in Australia's three mid-year visits to England following the start of IPL in 2008 - two ODI tours in 2010 and 2012 and the Ashes in 2009 - have the tourists emerged with a winning series. The only success in that time was a 6-1 win in the ODIs that followed the 2009 Tests, though in recent times post-Test series limited overs affairs have invariably run contrary to the dominant script.
Last year's matches were miserable in the extreme, and the effect of playing T20 on the subcontinent before embarking upon weightier contests in conditions that could not be more different is likely to take a toll.
Starc's call to avoid the tournament was reached only after plenty of considered thought. Given his successes for the Sydney Sixers and also Australia's T20 team, 22-year-old Starc was in line for a hefty Indian pay day if he had chosen to submit himself for the auction on February 3 in Chennai. Instead he will use that time to have the rest and pre-season training that Inverarity has recently emphasised. It looks a wise choice.
"I thought about it long and hard and had a chat with a few people and just figured that I've had a pretty big 18 months and I feel that my body just needs that time," Starc said. "The six weeks just to have a couple of weeks off, build myself back up in the gym, get some bowling under the belt and be raring to go if the chance comes to go to England.
"My focus is playing for Australia and IPL can wait. For me playing for Australia has always been the dream and I've got a chance to do that now. We've got a big 12 months coming and personally I'd rather take those six weeks to get myself ready for the winter over in England if I get the chance to go over there and for the summer back home. I made the decision to go over to England last year to work on my game [with Yorkshire], and this year it's the smart option to take the six weeks to recuperate and get my body right and strong to go."
Starc has been held up by Inverarity and Howard as an example of how a young bowler can successfully be pushed up from a first-class apprenticeship into regular national duty via his judicious use on selected tours. They will be grateful that his thinking has extended to skipping the IPL.
"It's all a personal choice, just my decision not to go," Starc said. "I spoke to a few people, my manager, my girlfriend, a few people close to me and that was my decision. I've been going for 18 months straight now, pretty happy with how my body's going, and I've learned a lot in terms of my cricket."
Wade, meanwhile, has recently returned to the Australia team following a post-Test break, and said his journey to the IPL was conditional on two things. First, he must be picked up in the auction, and second, he will have to decide how his body had stood up to the demands of keeping wickets over a rigorous Test series in India in the weeks before the event.
"If I get picked up and my body's 100% I'll play," he said. "If I'm not 100% I'll definitely pull out of the IPL to get myself up for the Australian tours coming up, which will be Champions Trophy or Ashes … if I feel good and like it's not going to harm me then I will play."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Daniel Brettig
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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