The Ashes 2013-14 September 9, 2013

Starc set to miss Ashes with back injury


Mitchell Starc is unlikely to play in Australia's home Ashes campaign after being diagnosed with a stress fracture in his lower back. Starc flew home from the ongoing limited-overs series in England due to back soreness and scans have shown that his injury will rule him out for "a prolonged period", almost certainly meaning that he will be unavailable for at least the start of the Ashes, if not the whole series.

Australia have already suffered similar injury blows in their fast-bowling ranks with James Pattinson sent home from the Ashes tour of England and Pat Cummins ruled out of the coming home summer, both with stress fractures of the lower back. Starc, 23, was Australia's third leading wicket taker during the unsuccessful Ashes campaign in England with 11 wickets at 32.45, and he would have been a likely starter for the first Test at the Gabba.

"Mitch Starc had scans following his arrival back to Australia and they have shown an early stage low back stress fracture," Justin Paolini, Cricket Australia's chief medical officer, said. "His management plan will be determined in the coming days but he is expected to be unavailable for a prolonged period."

Pat Howard, CA's general manager of team performance, said it was disappointing that Starc had succumbed to a stress fracture but that young fast bowlers were particularly susceptible to such injuries. In releasing the details of Starc's injury, CA stressed that few fast bowlers in Australia's history had bowled as many deliveries in Test cricket as Starc and Pattinson by the age of 23.

"Historically, we've rarely seen three such promising young fast bowlers come through at the same time and all of a similar age so when they get injured of course that will be disappointing," Howard said. "We're doing our best to minimise longer term injuries, but we are also realistic that such injuries are possible.

"Looking at a comparison of some of Australia's best quicks at the age of 23, Pattinson and Starc are second and third on the list behind Craig McDermott in terms of performance. What that tells us is we have a greater reliance on younger fast bowlers at international level than ever before and we're getting the most we can out of these talented young players, who are all coming through into international cricket together."

However, there was some good news for Australia, with Jackson Bird cleared of any major injury concerns after he flew home from the Ashes tour early due to back soreness. Bird, who played only the fourth Test in Durham and collected two wickets, is expected to be available for the start of the home Ashes if required.

"Jackson returned home from the tour of England with some lower back soreness," Paolini said. "We have ruled out a major injury but will review scans in two weeks to confirm this. We expect that he will be available during the Ashes."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Scott on September 16, 2013, 12:54 GMT

    @WeFinishThis, those were in the second innings when it was an ODI! And to be fair, he may have picked up 2 good wickets, but he still didn't bowl all that well, as other than Harris, none of our bowlers looked very good and we were getting hit for around 5rpo. Lookign at Starc's shield stats from the half season he played - looks like he averaged 22 - so nowhere near the 30+ you keep rambling on about. Use stats all you like from his ONE test match (hopefully the last we'll see him in over the summer) and FC cricket. None of it means anything. You don't have to be a genius to look at Faulkner and realise his strengths are suited to limited overs cricket. Even the Eng commentators have recognised this? It's the reason we keep selecting the wrong sides, picking flash in the pan 'had a great season - look at his stats' blokes that don't cut it. Part of me wants him to play just so I can prove you wrong, another prays he doesn't as we cant afford to lose the ashes again.

  • Chris on September 13, 2013, 23:52 GMT

    ScottStevo - The point is I've used "great stats" to back up my claims. I'd be interested to see any stats that support your claim that Starc has done anything in either test or first class to prove he deserves another chance. His ODI performances do not count. A few tail-ender Sri Lankan wickets at home don't count either. Furthermore, you also conveniently omitted Faulkner's wickets of Cook and Trott. I suppose they were going for a slog as well?

  • John on September 11, 2013, 11:48 GMT

    Bad news about Starc. Of all the young pacemen he has been the only one to trouble England; Pattinson's a good bowler, but doesn't do much with the ball, whereas Starc can bowl some lethal swing and was quicker than Patto in England.

    The big question is whether Aus goes back to MJ. He's a strike bowler, but if he's given too much work to do he loses effectiveness. Faulkner's willing and looks as though he could bowl all day, but Clarke showed his opinion of him as a wicket-taker when he only gave him 12 overs in England's first 116 at the Oval. He picks up wickets when the opposition is chasing quick runs, but he doesn't move the ball much and isn't very fast- 82-84mph- so test batsmen in normal situations will just milk him steadily.

    Bird being fit again, judging from what we saw in England, won't make a whole lot of difference to the test side. Aus already has Siddle, who does everything Bird does and does it better. Why would Aus want Bird as well?

  • Scott on September 11, 2013, 9:29 GMT

    @WeFinishThis, Wow, what great stats from half a test match! Faulkner looked useless until the final day! His first wicket was a rubbish ball (To Bell) who glanced it down the legside - only for Haddin (whom you disregard also) to clean up his mess with a great take (akin to one which Wade was unable to make in the ODIs albeit a far easier chance). Then Prior, who tried to slog him out of the ground got a top edge (which Starc made up the ground and caught) - another nothing wicket. Then Anderson going for a hoik and Swann going the same route as the final wicket of the innings - neither of which were terribly good. In the second innings when it was an ODI he bowled far better, using his cutters and slower ball. Nathan Bracken MkII this bloke is. Limited overs at best - possibly only T20. If he gets an extended run, we will lose and damage more bowlers as Clarke will not want to keep going back to him. As for his batting - he has a slog, he's okay, but no better than any from 8 down...

  • KP on September 11, 2013, 3:41 GMT

    Growing bodies and the rigours of international cricket are not holding up for a lot of young fast bowlers around the world (Australia are particularly unlucky with three of their best seamers 23 or under). It is becoming more and more of a trend to try and develop cricketers to have the physique and strength of AFL footballers or sprinters with great power and speed. This is fantastic if you only play for 2 to 3hrs a day once or twice a week, you can bowl quicker, hit harder and be very effective. Cricket's shortest format is stretched across 2.5hrs of playing time and test cricket involves 6hrs per day for 5 days in a row and with the current all year schedule there is no pre-season to build stamina and strength. CA need to re-think conditioning strategies because it does not seem to be working at the moment.

  • Mark on September 11, 2013, 3:29 GMT

    Seriously!! The only way your flat out pace bowler is going to have less injuries is to train the bodies better "&" to bowl less!!! there I said it! All pace bowlers in history, thats 90+mph(144+kph) were/are injury prone, at least until, with age & experience their pace drops & their smarts catch up. Is there a bowling solution in Test Cricket to this continuing problem? Mmm I wonder. Lets say we bring tests to 4 Days.. Asking the bowling team to bowl 110 overs per day (thereby guaranteeing 100 overs) may bring more batsman who can spin them a Little to the bowing crease! Although what I really hope to see is a medium pace bowler who can bowl "Cutters"..U know like I saw with D.Lillee in his last couple of years, like a W.Johnston that Lefty who bowled many an over coming in after R.Lindwall & K.Miller..(I'm sure there are a few med-pace swingers out there.. but I never seem to see any Cutters.) A bowler like that would be invaluable, solving a myraid of problems for Test Cricket

  • Peter on September 11, 2013, 2:47 GMT

    @Wefinishthis. We can all argue with facts if they are not compared fairly. Starc bowls at the SCG which is NOT pace bowler friendly where as Faulkner bowls on seam friendly Hobart, where I recall Starc bowled Australia to victory last season. Starc bowls great swing bowling. reverse & normal & does much more with the ball. I have a lot of time for Faulkner, but he is not in the same league as Starc the bowler, although he is approaching, as a batsman to a point where he can command a middle order place in first class teams. Starc has, within him, skills to win test matches by himself when on song, where as JF is more of the support role, just my take from having watched them for 4 years on the shield circuit.

  • Chris on September 10, 2013, 22:30 GMT

    ScottStevo - That's hilarious. Faulkner picked up 6 for 98 at an average of 16.33! How is that looking rubbish? His shield average is also outstanding to back that up. Strange that we didn't lose when Faulkner was in like you said and in fact quite the contrary, we likely would have won if it wasn't for rain. Starc averages 33.6 and is just as bad at shield level. Who cares if he picks up the occasional big wicket if it means that he's getting pasted at 33.6 runs per wicket? In the one game Faulkner got, he both completely outbowled Starc with the ball AND outscored him with the bat. Faulkner's wickets were hardly all bunnies - Cook, Trott, Bell, Prior, Swann and Anderson and only Swann was going for the slog. Starc got Trott, Pietersen and Broad. The difference was Faulkner got 4/51 whereas Starc got 3/92 and then Faulkner got 2/47 where Starc got belted as usual for 0/48. It's the same in tests or at shield level. Can't argue with the facts. Faulkner beats Starc every. single. time.

  • Scott on September 10, 2013, 13:10 GMT

    @WeFinishThis, Actually, it's a huge loss as Starc took some massive wickets in this series. Sure, he wasn't all that consistent - neither was his selection! You criticise the bloke, yet I'm not even sure he's played 2 tests in a row? What did Faulkner do? I'll tell you - nothing. He looked as rubbish as he is and only when we turned the last test effectively into an ODI and they were trying to slog him did he pick up wickets - and they were all cheap. If he's anywhere near our bolwing squad, we will lose. Of all our bowlers I think Faulkner is at the bottom of the pile, purely based on his medium paced, straight up and down, nothing deliveries that won't threaten any quality test batsmen.

  • Kevin on September 10, 2013, 12:57 GMT

    Sad, sad news :-( Saw this guy playing for Yorkshire, looked like he'd be a good-un! Hope he recovers and comes back to haunt us poms!