Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
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Test cricket remains "far above" the other formats for Mitchell Starc as he indicated a staggered white-ball retirement to ensure he can continue his red-ball career.
Starc, 32, was ever-present in Australia's Test side last season through the Ashes series and then the Pakistan and Sri Lanka tours. He is now eyeing another extensive run in the format starting next week against West Indies in Perth, the first five home Tests, followed by four in India, a potential World Test Championship final, and the Ashes in England.
He will also be central to Australia's plans at the next year's ODI World Cup in India but that may prove a natural end point to his 50-over career with Starc also indicating he retains hope of being part of the 2024 T20 World Cup despite being dropped in the recent edition.
"Tests always first…far above white-ball [cricket]," he said after the second ODI against England. "I'll decide on the rest as I go, where my body is at and how I feel about it. I would love to, selection and form pending, continue playing Test cricket as long as I can."
Starc's desire to remain fresh for Test cricket has been the reason behind foregoing the IPL. He said it is impossible to play all matches across formats given the intensity of the international schedule, and indicated dropping one version of the game may not be far away.
"It's certainly impossible at the moment to play every game as a three-format player," he said. "We've seen that over the last few years, sometimes there are two Australian teams playing at the same time in different continents in different formats. They see a break and put a series on. I think having those periods of time to rest may help me keep bowling at decent speeds for a period of time. I don't think playing three formats is something I can [continue] for a long period of time moving forward now."
Starc also expressed sympathy for the fans after crowds of 15,420 and 16,993 attended the matches in Adelaide and Sydney prompting more debate about the packed calendar and the future of the ODI format.
"There's a game every day," he said. "It's not for me to sit here and decide on a schedule but it is what it is. We've come off a T20 World Cup into a three-match one-day series into five Tests, the WBBL is heading into finals at the minute, then you've got BBL, we go to India for Tests and white-ball [cricket], the girls have got a T20 World Cup into IPL. How do you ask people to go spend 400-500 bucks at a day of cricket three days a week? It's a busy schedule for players and staff and fans."
The ongoing ODI series against England is providing the Test preparation for Australia's quicks - another impact of the crammed schedule - but a lack of four-day cricket is something they are becoming increasingly comfortable with and there is even a view that it allows a more controlled build-up.
"It's not anything new for us players, particularly us bowlers," Starc said. "We're all very experienced and know what we need. I guess that'll be shown in the Test matches, but in terms of the preparation, we're pretty comfortable with where we are at.
"If we're playing Shield games, I certainly don't want to be managed on the number of overs I have to bowl. If I'm there to play the game, and if I need to bowl more, I prefer to bowl more. It has happened in the past where I've been dragged out of the first innings and not been able to take part in the second innings."