With the 2017 Champions Trophy just over a month away, Mitchell Starc, the Australian pace spearhead, has returned to bowling after a stress fracture in his right foot had kept him out of action since the second Test of the tour of India in early March.
Starc, 27, bowled of a short six-step run-up in training in Brisbane on Friday (April 28), and said afterwards that he was hopeful of bowling at full throttle in around seven-to-ten days.
Having opted out of the 2017 Indian Premier League to work on his recovery and get fit in time for the Champions Trophy, Starc told cricket.com.au that he was “on track, if not a little bit ahead of schedule in the recovery”.
He confirmed that he was targeting a comeback to match action during Australia’s warm-up matches prior to the big tournament, to be played in England and Wales in June. Australia have two warm-up fixtures scheduled: Against Sri Lanka on May 26 and against Pakistan on May 29.
Australia have named a strong 15-man squad for the Champions Trophy, with a pace attack including Starc, Josh Hazlewood, James Pattinson and Pat Cummins, with Moises Henriques, John Hastings and Marcus Stoinis as medium-pace options.
“It’s really exciting, not only for the Champions Trophy but also for the rest of the summer if we can stay fit and keep playing cricket,” said Starc. “The four of us have spent a lot of time around each other and we have a close friendship. If there’s a stage when we can unleash the four of us in the same game, and then looking forward to the Ashes, if the same can happen there with four steaming quicks and Nathan Lyon being the spinner, it’d be really exciting.”
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Even though he has missed large chunks of cricket because of injuries, Starc has had an exceptional last 12 months in One-Day Internationals, picking up 30 wickets in 14 matches at 18.96. Hazlewood has been Starc’s new-ball partner in all the 14 ODIs.
“Josh and I have had a really great partnership with the new ball over the past 12 months,” agreed Starc. “And I’d like to think that if we’re both fit, we’ve earned the right to take that new ball, first and foremost anyway. But all four of us are capable of bowling brilliantly with the new ball or the old ball. So it’s a great option for Steve Smith as captain, to have four bowlers who can bowl at any stage in a day of Test cricket and then with the white ball as well, either when it’s new and swinging or old and reversing.”