Champions Trophy 2013 May 1, 2013

Starc on road to full fitness, hopes to gain pace


Mitchell Starc has declared the ankle operation that he underwent five weeks ago such a good move that it might help him gain pace when he returns to bowling this year. Starc has been named in Australia's squads for the Ashes and the Champions Trophy one-day tournament, which begins in early June, and he is expected to be fit by then, after having surgery on his left ankle following his early departure from the Test tour of India in March.

Starc played through pain in the third Test in Mohali before being sent home for the operation and he said he was already free of the discomfort that had troubled him before. Starc, 23, plays all three formats for Australia and given his ability to swing the ball, he is likely to be a key man in the Ashes campaign, hence Cricket Australia's eagerness to ensure he would not be carrying a niggle that could hamper his productivity.

"The spur on the inside didn't bother me much; that's why we were talking about getting through hopefully 12 months [without surgery]," Starc told reporters in Brisbane on Wednesday. "But we'd found one on the outside that had broken off, that was the one that bothered me most in India, and I didn't know about that one until I got back to Australia. That Test in Mohali it was pretty painful... so with the timeline that we needed to be right for the Ashes, we needed to come home and get it done.

"I've been back in the gym, doing my fitness stuff for three weeks now, so I'm feeling good. I've got more movement in my ankle now than I did after the first surgery three or four years ago. It could work in my favour, maybe an extra yard or two of pace if I'm lucky. But the pain's gone now so that's the main thing, [I've had] a few months of bowling through pain and a few injections but I'm past that and ready to hit the ground running."

Starc is not the only fast bowler in Australia's Champions Trophy squad who is currently on the mend: Clint McKay, Australia's reigning One-Day International Cricketer of the Year, finished the summer battling a stress reaction in his right foot. He, too, is expected to be fully fit by the time the one-day tournament begins, but the new ODI vice-captain George Bailey said regardless, the Australians had developed enough depth over the summer to ease any concerns.

"I think they've both played enough cricket now to know what they can and can't do," Bailey said of Starc and McKay. "One of the pleasing things for me coming to the back end of the summer was that it felt like we were starting to have a stronger squad, or a stronger team balance. One of the keys for this sort of tournament is making sure that you're not necessarily relying on one or two, but that on any given day, any one of your squad can step in and do a really important role for you."

This will be the first time Bailey has been part of Australia's team for a major ODI tournament and he is part of the changing face of Australia's one-day side. Australia have won the past two Champions Trophy events, in 2006 and 2009, but only four members of the 2009 squad - Clarke, Shane Watson, Mitchell Johnson and Adam Voges - are back to defend the title. Australia have slipped to third on the ODI rankings and while Bailey knows the team is not the all-conquering outfit of past years, he is confident they can come away from England with the trophy.

"It is a big tournament," Bailey said. "We've won it twice. It's a big goal for us and a point to prove, that we're back on track with our one-day cricket and see if we can win it for the third time. I think we've had enough wake-up calls over the last 12 to 15 months to know that we're not a powerhouse in one-day cricket any more.

"I still think we can be the best side in the world at one-day cricket but certainly not by the margin it was two, three or four years ago. I don't think there's any pressure about being defending champions. The longer-term goal for us is to make sure we play more consistent cricket."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Camberwellcarrot1979 on May 7, 2013, 17:40 GMT

    cont...Eng have home advantage. You haven't beaten us at home for 12 years and we have won the last two Ashes series. Our attack is ranked higher (granted that your guys haven't played enough) and our batters have a huge advantage in terms of their averages and experience. We have a much better keeper and better spinners. You are reliant on your capatin who has a dodgy back and an injury prone bowling attack that have not really played in Eng in international cricket apart from last summer and we all know how that went. guys may win but are Eng wrong to be confident? It is not a quality that you guys ever lack! I went to Aus in 2002-3 and the sneering derision of our players (and country) at the hands of the Aus press and public linger long in the memory. Maybe the Eng press are getting cocky but why shouldn't we looking at the facts and recent history. If Eng lose, I'll be the first to applaud Aus but if you lose, I suspect it'll be the same old excuses.

  • Camberwellcarrot1979 on May 7, 2013, 17:29 GMT

    @ Daniel Sijmons, you clearly haven't read my posts properly or the ones that preceeded them. I was using the rankings to highlight that using stats blindly without looking at underlying reasons is foolish. Please read through the posts before writing on here! As to the NZ series, I have read many Eng fans on here, me included, say that we were severly lucky to escape that series 0-0. I just feel that you guys have an inability to have any sort of perspective on things. Whether it be whinging about the Indians wickets (wow...they spun? In India?), cherry picking stats about recent Eng-Aus matches (inc ODI series at the back of Ashes defeats but not acknowledging that Eng stuffed you 4-0 last summer). For me, ODI series last summer or in 09 or 12 won'tt matter too much. Or using rankings to state Siddle is better than Jimmy but not highlighting that our attack is ranked better. I was responding to poorly used stats. Read again! Eng are confident but why shouldn't we be? cont...

  • dummy4fb on May 7, 2013, 8:30 GMT

    @Milhouse do you have a point or are you just here to annoy people? You relied this article has nothing to do with England right? And you use ranking to prove your attack is better? All it proves is that Pattinson, Starc and Bird all are yet to climb the rankings do to playing a small number of tests (hilfys injury is the only reason he's below your attack in the rankings....

    We lost India, poor selections cost us dearly... and we lost to SA, but if you think that's all there was to the SA series you obviously didn't watch it... We were horribly unlucky to loose Pattinson and the test in Adelaide, as we were with rain in Brisbane... We lost, but that doesn't diminish

    And as for England... Where was you're great attack that never came close to taking 20 wicket against NZ? The English media are so bullish after our horror India tour (after we lost 2 of out all time great batsman) but forget about Englands poor performance in NZ... or was it the pitches fault?

  • Camberwellcarrot1979 on May 6, 2013, 16:27 GMT

    You use the ODI series at the end of a long hard Ashes series in 2011/12 to boost your stats. Fair enough - you were the better team. I think it was a case of after the Lord Mayors show, as it was in 2009. On both occassions, you guys played some good cricket and were obviously motivated by being beaten in both Ashes series (more important you'd agree?). If you want to want to base this on Test cricket, which you should, as that is the main format this summer, then we have a clear advantage. If you want to use ODIs to make a point, then surely the 4-0 thrashing last summer isn't something you want to remember is it? You can use stats all you like but sensible cricket fans look beyond stats to see the real picture. Either way, England have the advantage. I know whose shoes I'd rather be in...

  • Blokey on May 6, 2013, 12:13 GMT

    You seem to have been reading many of my tweets, @Milhouse79.Well done! England's era of "superiority" is indeed impressive, with England having won 9 of the last 18 internationals vs Australia and losing 8 in the period including the last Ashes. Of course the entirety of the modern era going back 30 years - where Australia's dominance has surfaced 75% of the time - is but a temporary blip, old chap, as I'm sure you'd agree. I am particularly heartened by the stunning performance of the English Lions on their recent tour of Australia. Several of our brightest young bats reached double figures on more than one occasion, and at least three bowlers took a wicket. This clearly shows the superiority of English cricket - even as Rogers, Copeland and co struggle against the might of English County opponents even as we speak. I rest my case (of port).

  • Camberwellcarrot1979 on May 5, 2013, 9:01 GMT

    HatsforBats...I do not think England are the best team ever or anything like that. It makes me chuckle when you Aussies accuse us of being cocky/arrogant! Pot and kettle perhaps? I don't think the Aussie pysche can cope with England being superior, which we have been over the last few years. As I said, at Edgebaston you batted the last day out to get out of jail. Eng bowled you out for 263, we got 376. You were 161-4 before Clarke and North got you out of trouble. If you think Australia controlled any of that game, I'd question whether you saw it. You lost that series due to massive batting collapses. It is tragic that you cannot accept defeat. Do you think you beat SA last summer? I bet you dismiss the 4-0 ODI drubbing last year as well! Are you one of those whinging Aussies that blamed the 4-0 India thrashing on the pitches? Look mate...just accept it that you lost. Thing that has to worry you a lot is that your batting is so much worse nowadays. Going to be a long tough summer!

  • HatsforBats on May 5, 2013, 0:46 GMT

    Milhouse79, you seem to be one of those English fans who've swallowed their own medias tripe and think the current team is one of the greatest of all time! Australia scored more runs and took more wickets, both at better averages and controlled much of the series. Edgbaston? 2 days lost to rain and the match finished with England taking 5/375 to give Aus a 200+ lead. The blinkers are off mate, Australia didn't deserve to win that series cause they couldn't control key passages of play. England won those key sessions and that decided the series

  • Camberwellcarrot1979 on May 4, 2013, 16:49 GMT are clearly demonstrating what we all know and that is that Australians are the worst winners and worst losers in the world. You are probably one of those delusional Aussies who thinks that you didn't lose to SA last Aussie summer. Mate...England just won the odd session? England dominated at Lords, thrashed you at the Oval and Clarke had to bat out the last day at Edgebaston! It was a tight series I agree (much tighter than the thrashing down under) but England were no doubt the better team! All without KP who missed 3 tests and an unfit Flintoff! You need to take off the blinkers off.

  • HatsforBats on May 4, 2013, 7:05 GMT

    @ Milhouse79, "when has a lower order swish ever counted for anything?", apparently when it's Broad or Swann or Bresnan, or even Panesar getting off strike. English fans & commentators bleat ad nauseum about how good their lower order batting is.

  • HatsforBats on May 4, 2013, 6:57 GMT

    @ Milhouse79, revisionist history? Maybe you should go back and watch that series again? Maybe because England won the series you think they were the better team? England won a few very important sessions but Australia controlled the majority of that series. I think the performances in that series back up that view.

  • No featured comments at the moment.