Domestic batsmen's worst fears have been confirmed with Australia spearhead Mitchell Starc set to return to the JLT One-Day Cup with NSW this week.
Starc, who hasn’t played competitive cricket since suffering a recurrence of a foot injury during Australia's Champions Trophy campaign in June, will play for the Blues against South Australia at Hurstville Oval on Friday.
The left-armer, one of the best white-ball bowlers on the planet, tore the one-day competition to shreds two seasons ago when he claimed a domestic record 26 wickets at 8.12 in six matches.
NSW started this year's tournament with a loss to Western Australia at the WACA before defeating Tasmania at the same venue on Monday.
Starc is also set to feature for the Blues in the three JLT Sheffield Shield rounds before he leads Australia's attack in the first Magellan Ashes Test at the Gabba on November 23.
"Barring any hiccups I'll be taking part in the JLT Cup and hopefully those first couple of Shield games as well," the 27-year-old said earlier this month.
"I think that's a great lead-up for all the guys who are around the Test set-up, the guys who are looking to try and get in that team and some of us coming back from injury.
"It's first-class cricket hopefully on some Test venues.
"It's probably a better lead-in than most of the last few summers where we've had one Shield game, two at tops."
Starc sat out Australia's Qantas Tour of Bangladesh and the ongoing limited-overs series in India, and believes he'll be well prepared for this summer's Ashes.
"The last few times I've been injured I've been rushed back too early for tournaments," Starc said.
"The same thing happened in the Champions Trophy, so to have a nice even lead-in to this summer has been good.
"It has been a silver lining to spend a lot of time in the gym and not rush back into bowling and make sure I haven't got any niggles leading into a very important summer."