Starc to prioritise Australian fitness over Big Bash
Mitchell Starc has confirmed he won't make himself available for BBL|12 this summer as he aims to keep himself fit to represent Australia as much as he can
AAP & cricket.com.au
3 July 2022, 01:35 PM AEST
Mitchell Starc has become the first Australian star to confirm he won't play in this summer's KFC BBL as negotiations loom on future player availability.
This summer shapes as crucial for the competition following two COVID hit seasons, with Cricket Australia desperate to have as much top-line talent playing as often as possible.
Australia's multi-format stars are expected to be available for a portion of it, with January's three match ODI series against South Africa yet to be locked in after a late request from Cricket South Africa to shift the matches with the launch of their new T20 league slated for the same time.
But that won't alter Starc's position, who does not see himself featuring in the Big Bash any time soon.
The 32-year-old quick last played for Sydney Sixers in 2014-15, while also forgoing close to $10 million in possible salaries on offer in various T20 leagues across the globe since then.
"I have always enjoyed the BBL when I have played it ... but my approach with all franchise cricket hasn't changed over the last seven years," Starc said.
"My approach to the IPL, BBL, I have looked at the Australian schedule and wanting to be as fit and well-performed for that as I can.
"And franchise cricket has taken a back seat."
Starc's position comes in the midst of a cluttered international schedule for the Australian side.
Following the current tour in Sri Lanka, they have white-ball series scheduled against Zimbabwe, New Zealand, India, England and West Indies as well as a home T20 World Cup in October-November.
Tests follow against West Indies and South Africa before the BBL|12 window, with a tour of India, an away Ashes campaign and 50-over World Cup all highlighting next year's calendar.
"The schedule in the next 18 months is ridiculous," Starc said.
"I will always keep Australian cricket front of mind, and then franchise cricket (second).
"I also like spending time at home and seeing my wife (Alyssa Healy, who is also often away)."
Getting the best Australian players featuring in the tournament has been top of the agenda for BBL boss Alistair Dobson.
"Just as important as overseas players is the best local players," he said.
"This season there looks like there's a window towards the back end where we're really hopeful that a lot of those players will be able to play a couple of games and we're working with our clubs to ensure they're clear on the schedule."
As things stand, Usman Khawaja (Brisbane Heat), Mitchell Swepson (Brisbane Heat), Nathan Lyon (Sixers) and Alex Carey (Adelaide Strikers) all have contracts for this summer.
Marnus Labuschagne will likely re-sign with Brisbane and Travis Head has long played for Adelaide.
Steve Smith also appears keen to play this summer following the New Year's Test after Sydney Sixers' request to have him feature in last season's finals series was knocked back.
Josh Hazlewood played for the Sixers as recent as 2019-20, which he credits as launching the revival of his T20 career, while Cameron Green skipped last year, and Pat Cummins and David Warner have long sat out.
Beyond this season, officials are eyeing an opportunity to create a permanent window for Australia's all-format stars to be involved in the Big Bash in January, with a new Future Tours Programme for international cricket to be unveiled later this year.
There is also a push in the next Memorandum of Understanding negotiations between Cricket Australia and the players' union to have centrally contracted players aligned to a BBL club.
The current MOU agreement expires midway through 2023.
CA are confident the new overseas player draft, which was announced last month, will help get the best available international T20 talent into the competition with former South African captain Faf du Plessis the first marquee player signed last week.