Starc set to return in West Indies
Mitchell Starc will return from his long injury lay-off in the one-day tri-series in the West Indies in June. Australia have named their squad for the series more than two months out from their first match, and along with Starc notable selections include the uncapped batsman Travis Head, as well as Test spinner Nathan Lyon.
The tri-series involving West Indies, South Africa and Australia begins on June 3, and it is Australia's next international engagement now that they have been eliminated from the World Twenty20 in India. The selectors have chosen a 16-man squad to provide extra cover due to the travel time from Australia to the Caribbean in case of injuries.
Starc has been named for what will be his first international matches since the Adelaide Test against New Zealand in November, when he suffered an ankle injury that led to surgery and a lengthy recovery. Australia missed Starc's expertise at the World T20, and as the No.3 on the ICC's ODI bowling rankings and the Player of the Tournament at last year's World Cup he will be a valuable addition.
Speaking after news of his selection came in, Starc said he was not back to bowling at full tilt yet, but was getting there. "I've been in the gym for, I guess, close to three months now. Been bowling for three weeks, I think. So, just progressing through my bowling, not quite off the full run," he said. "Hopefully I get to bowl to a few batsmen soon, they all seem to be on holidays or just getting back from India… That will probably come in May when we get together in Brisbane, looking forward to that.
"It [the ankle] is all fixed, pretty good. Not off the full run yet but there's no pain there, which is something I have not had for nine months now, which is great."
"Mitchell has progressed very well in his rehab and the medical staff are confident he will be fit to play in this series," national selector Rod Marsh said. "It is extremely pleasing to have a bowler of his calibre back in the side."
Gone from the squad that lost the Chappell-Hadlee Series to New Zealand in February are fast bowlers Scott Boland and Kane Richardson, who have been dropped, and the batsman Shaun Marsh, who was not considered due to the impending birth of his first child. Marsh's absence opened the door for Head, who made his T20 international debut against India in January.
"Travis has put in some match winning performances in all three formats of the game this summer," Rod Marsh said. "He is an exciting young batsman with a bright future and if he gets his opportunity I have no doubt he will make the most of it."
The selectors also found room for Lyon, who played in the ODIs against India in January but was left out of both the squad for the Chappell-Hadlee Series and the World T20. Lyon and legspinner Adam Zampa are the two frontline spin options in the squad, along with the spinning allrounder Glenn Maxwell.
"Nathan has bowled very well in the West Indies in the past and we are predicting we will see some slow turning pitches," Marsh said. "Adam has impressed us in India during the World T20 and has bowled consistently well, and with confidence, when given his opportunity."
Fast bowler Nathan Coulter-Nile has also been chosen for his first ODI series since the tour of England last year. Australia's first game is against West Indies in Guyana on June 5.
Squad Steven Smith (capt), David Warner (vice-capt), George Bailey, Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, John Hastings, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale