'Fit, strong and ready to play some cricket' - Starc
Having been out of cricket since late November with a foot fracture, Mitchell Starc has said he is "fit, strong and ready" for a return to action during the tri-series in the West Indies, which begins on June 3.
"It's been a long time coming, [I've been] watching a lot of cricket, so yeah, excited to get on that plane tomorrow, head off, and hopefully play a few games in the West Indies," Starc said, during his pre-departure press conference on Thursday.
Starc last played during Australia's day-night Test against New Zealand in Adelaide, where he suffered an ankle injury that required him to undergo surgery.
"There's no pain in the ankle or foot, so [I've] been really happy with it, it's come along really well." Starc said. "Had a good three or four months in the gym to get a bit of size back on and I'm feeling really good. Fit, strong and ready to play some cricket."
The surgery removed bone spurs - which have troubled Starc right through his career - from the fast bowler's right ankle. Terming the injury as one arising from overuse rather than technical issues with his action, Starc said he would not need to make any modifications in his action. He admitted, however, that the ankle spurs would remain a recurring issue.
"I'm sure the spurs will come back again," he said. "I guess it's just part of fast bowling, the impact that we put through our body, especially that front foot, so yeah, taking that bit of bone out of the back is going to solve that issue and it's felt really good in the last few months of bowling, so I'm happy with where that is. I'm sure the spurs will come back somewhere down the line, hopefully a lot longer down the line."
Asked about the debate surrounding day-night Test matches, with one pink-ball Test penciled in later this year against Pakistan at the Gabba and uncertainty surrounding the staging of a second, against South Africa in Adelaide, Starc echoed his captain Steven Smith's views and said Adelaide was probably "best suited" to hosting day-night Test cricket.
"If they take a bit of grass off, it'll probably last a few more than three days, and yeah, look, it's going through its changes, the ball needs a little bit of work, but I think it's in a good place," Starc said. "As we saw with the amount of people that came and the viewers at home, it's obviously here to stay, so as cricketers we're going to have to get used to it, and it sounds like we're going to play hopefully two Test matches with it this year.
"It's another challenge for us to get used to that for the Gabba Test if we get a chance to play some Shield cricket there before that Test match. Obviously the Adelaide Test is still up in the air, and let's see what they've got to say about it."
Having said that, Starc felt the pink Kookaburra still had some way to go before it could be used regularly in Test matches, contending that there was too much grass left on the pitch during the Adelaide Test against New Zealand.
"[To] keep throwing grass on the wicket just to look after a cricket ball, I don't think it's true Test cricket. The ball has come a long way, Kookaburra are doing great things with it, [but] it's got to come a little bit further so we're not preparing wickets to protect the ball."