Australia in India 2012-13 March 19, 2013

Starc flies home for ankle surgery


Mitchell Starc will fly home from India to have surgery on his ankle and will miss the fourth and final Test in Delhi.

Starc has been affected by bone spurs in his right ankle for some time and the problem was a key factor in him being rested for the Boxing Day Test against Sri Lanka, and while he was able to continue through the rest of the Australian summer and the Indian tour, the Australians are hoping an early operation will ensure he is fully fit for the Ashes.

Starc was one of Australia's strongest performers in the loss in Mohali, where he scored 99 and 35, and collected two wickets during a spell of impressive swing bowling with the second new ball in India's second innings. However, with the Border-Gavaskar Trophy now in India's hands, the Australian team management decided that Starc's injury was best dealt with immediately to give him the best chance of being available for the tour of England.

"Mitch has been experiencing ankle pain related to bone spurs during the India Test series and whilst manageable, this represents an appropriate time for Mitch to have the surgery with a view to having him fully fit for the Ashes in late June," the team doctor Peter Brukner said. "Mitch will have surgery later this week and we'll assess his recovery as he returns to bowling."

Australia's coach Mickey Arthur said Starc could have continued playing but that could have been more of a risk than booking him in for the operation now.

"I think the dilemma with Mitchell Starc, as it has been throughout the whole summer, is he has these bone spurs," Arthur said. "They are going to snap at some stage - we just had to look for what we thought was the best possible window to get them done, or not get them done and just take the risk.

"We looked at it now and just thought 'this is a proper gap for us to be able to get it done, clean it out' so that he can come back with no gamble and no I guess injury cloud at all. It gives us a good window now to get it done properly. In terms of risk this was the best time. He'll be ready we're hoping by the Champions Trophy, if not he'll be 100% ready to go for the Ashes. We just thought it was the best time."

Starc's absence for the Delhi Test could bring Mitchell Johnson into contention to play his first Test of the tour. Johnson and James Pattinson will again be available for selection after being left out due to their failure to complete a team task in Mohali and while Pattinson is a certainty to play, the make-up of the rest of the attack is less clear. The pitch in Delhi is expected to offer significant turn.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Wefinishthis on March 22, 2013, 4:14 GMT

    Meety - I dismiss Siddle because he hasn't performed in the series we needed him to. An average of 35 at home against England, 38 at home against SA followed by an average of 33 currently in this India series is not good enough. This contributed in all of those series (along with Lyon and others) in allowing the opposition to pile up 400+ scores, which cost us both series and the no.1 ranking. I'm not saying Zampa and Agar should be in the starting XI, just the squad, but be honest, could they do ANY worse than Doherty or Lyon in the SA or India series? There's really nothing to lose. HatsforBats - McGrath did say that, but I disagree with him in that he wouldn't have been much more effective (if any). He's already IMO the greatest along with Marshall. Secondly, Steyn is great because his control is like Philander/McGrath, very consistent and he swings the ball both ways like Akram/Younis used to. He could drop his faster ball and still be great. He couldn't drop his control though.

  • HatsforBats on March 21, 2013, 7:27 GMT

    @Wefinishthis, I'm not worshipping at the altar of pace, but it is a tool to be used just like consistency, swing, and movement. Unlike those though, it can't be taught. McGrath said many times if he could bowl as fast as Lee he would. Part of what makes Steyn so great is his ability to suprise batsman with the quicker ball at 150+. Starc at 23 has shown more than enough that he has the goods to become an excellent test bowler. Faulkner also 23 is a great talent and will get his shot, but he is competing against Harris & Bird for a spot, not Starc, and he is not yet as good as those two.

  • Meety on March 21, 2013, 0:49 GMT

    @Wefinishthis on (March 19, 2013, 23:08 GMT) - I have no problems with your theory, but the execution is wrong. How anyone can dismiss what Siddle has been doing for the last 2 years is baffling. I was NOT a fan of Siddle, did NOT want him in the Test team in SL, but he has hardly put a foot wrong since & has the stats to back it. Zampa & Agar CANNOT be considered yet for Oz, they are JUST learning their trade, a perfectly good spinner like Lyon may have sufferred from too much International exposure too soon, & we cannot aford to repeat that with them. They should tour with the A-sides for at least another year & STAY AWAY from BBL or any other 20/20 League. I am happy with our pace stocks, but I have to start asking the question "Why is it only 3 batsmen that scored over 400 runs in the Shield had averages over 50?" One is a former great, another a back up Keeper & the 3rd (Hughes) - nobody wants to play for Oz! Could it be conditions? (TBC)

  • dummy4fb on March 20, 2013, 12:47 GMT

    Jayzuz - its a Test Match - the idea is to bat for 140 overs+ and see where your at then!! NOT to bat for 20 overs as Warner, Cowan and Hughes do.

  • Wefinishthis on March 20, 2013, 12:12 GMT

    Shaggy076 - I hope you're right, but injuries aside, I doubt very much the selectors will pick Harris in the starting XI again. They seem set in their ways on 'backing' the average bowlers like Starc, Johnson and Siddle because they think ethereal things like 'experience' and 'backing' are more important than actual talent. The obvious first choice lineup for the ashes is O'Keefe, Harris, Pattinson, Bird and whilst they seem to now recognise Pattinson as a starter, there just won't be enough room for them all to start the first test since they'll likely 'back' Lyon again along with Pattinson and inexplicably Starc and Siddle (the exact same lineup that failed embarrassingly in the first test India). If we're struggling to take 10 wickets for under 500 runs/innings as we have all series (which means we can't win), it's a problem with the bowlers, not our batting order which has been getting all the attention. Starc, Doherty and Lyon have been the major contributers to our downfall.

  • Shaggy076 on March 20, 2013, 8:20 GMT

    Wefinishthis; They are simply in front of Harris because until a fortnight ago he hadnt played a first class match for around 10 months. I got no doubt Harris will go to the Ashes and be part of the team.

  • Shaggy076 on March 20, 2013, 8:15 GMT

    Popcorn ; Your argument about the Argus review being the reason Hughes shouldnt be picked is seriously flawed. The Argus review was to pick the most inform batsman at the time and during the Sheffield Shield season Phil Hughes was the most inform batsman. Khawaja has been given sniffs of opportunities but never beaten the door down to cement a spot. It will come and Khawaja if he is going to be any sort of success at Test level will realise he still needs to do more and make sure the selectors cant pick him. If he cant realise this then he was never going to have the mental fortitude to be a success at test level. As for Warner I agree with Jayzuz here, Australia 2-0 down had to press hard for victory and it didnt work. I think Warner has showed significant improvement over the last 12 months and believe he will be a decent test opener.

  • Jayzuz on March 20, 2013, 2:38 GMT

    @popcorn, we didn't need Warner to "play steady". We needed him to attack from the word go while the ball was hard. That was Australia's best chance, and this was clearly what he was instructed to do. So it didn't work this time. It's called taking a risk for a reason. At least we had a shot at it, unlike Dhoni and Smith, who are unbelievably defensive as soon as the prospect of a loss emerges.

  • Jayzuz on March 20, 2013, 2:34 GMT

    Not a bad decision at all. And time to give the other Mitch a shot. He is a more skiddy bowler, and those bowlers are better in Indian conditions. Starc's greatest asset has always been the incredible bounce he gets off the surface, but the Indians made sure they didn't have to deal with that. Many of his bouncers were getting up to waist high in this last test, and I suspect the track was spot-doctored again to negate him. That left him with swing - but on the second day there was no swing for either team, and with no bounce or seam that meant that 450 runs in the day was the result. When the swing came back on days 3 and 4, batting was much harder vs the pace bowlers (with the new ball), even as the pitch started spinning.

  • funkybluesman on March 19, 2013, 23:53 GMT

    Unless Australia are going to consider flying over O'Keefe for the final test, or taking a punt of a youngster like Agar, they really should go with three pace bowlers, regardless of the pitch. Doherty is a waste of space in test cricket. It was the stupidist of selections picking him basically on the basis of him being the preferred one day/T20 spinner, but while he may do okay in the short forms, he's not close to being up to test level.