ICC Champions Trophy 2017
Starc returns to crease after injury lay-off
Australia quick Mitchell Starc resumed bowling following the injury that cut short his India Test tour, and has his sights set on the Champions Trophy and Ashes
28 April 2017, 07:52 PM AEST
Paceman Mitchell Starc is back bowling again and is ready to be unleashed in a fearsome Australian bowling attack for their Champions Trophy opener in five weeks’ time.
But the left-armer says he and pace partner Josh Hazlewood won't give up the new ball without a fight, despite the irresistible cases being put forward by speedsters Pat Cummins and James Pattinson.
Starc hit the nets today for the first time since he returned home early from Australia's Qantas Tour of India last month due to a foot injury.
With High Performance coach and former Test teammate Ryan Harris watching on, the left-armer bowled off a shortened approach of around six steps in Brisbane this morning and is confident of charging in off his full run-up as early as next week.
The 27-year-old says he's "on track, if not a little bit ahead of schedule" in his recovery and is targeting a return in one or both of Australia's Champions Trophy warm-up matches, against Sri Lanka on May 26 and Pakistan on May 29, before their tournament opener against New Zealand at Edgbaston on June 2.
Quick Single: Australia's Champions Trophy squad
And having been named in Australia's 15-man squad alongside Hazlewood, Cummins and Pattinson, Starc is looking forward to the prospect of all four playing in the same XI for the first time at international level ahead of possibly doing so again in the Ashes this coming summer.
"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," Starc told cricket.com.au.
"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 (in the Champions Trophy) 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."
While speedsters Pattinson and Cummins have impressed in their respective returns from injury, they still face a battle to unseat Starc and Hazlewood as Australia's new-ball pair in Test and one-day cricket.
The NSW Blues duo opened the bowling in all 15 of the 15 ODIs they played together over the past 12 months, as well as 18 of 21 Test innings in the same period, the exceptions coming when spin opened the bowling on turning tracks in Asia.
And while the express pace of Pattinson and Cummins is only enhanced by bowling with a hard new ball, Starc believes he and Hazlewood deserve to open the bowling no matter who their pace partners are.
"Josh and I have had a really great partnership with the new ball over the past 12 months," he said.
"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."
Starc will remain at the Bupa National Cricket Centre in Brisbane for the next two weeks, where his wife Alyssa is also currently based as part of the Southern Stars' training camp for their World Cup defence in June and July.
The Australians not playing in the IPL or English county cricket will depart for the UK on May 18.
Champions Trophy 2017 Guide
Group A: Australia, New Zealand, England, Bangladesh.
Group B: India, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Pakistan.
26 May – Australia v Sri Lanka, The Oval
27 May – Bangladesh v Pakistan, Edgbaston
28 May – India v New Zealand, The Oval
29 May – Australia v Pakistan, Edgbaston
30 May – New Zealand v Sri Lanka, Edgbaston
30 May – Bangladesh vs India, The Oval
1 June – England v Bangladesh, The Oval (Day)
2 June – Australia v New Zealand, Edgbaston (D)
3 June – Sri Lanka v South Africa, The Oval (D)
4 June – India v Pakistan, Edgbaston (D)
5 June – Australia v Bangladesh, The Oval (D/N)
6 June – England v New Zealand, Cardiff (D)
7 June – Pakistan v South Africa, Edgbaston (D/N)
8 June – India v Sri Lanka, The Oval (D)
9 June – New Zealand v Bangladesh, Cardiff (D)
10 June – England v Australia, Edgbaston (D)
11 June – India v South Africa, The Oval (D)
12 June – Sri Lanka v Pakistan, Cardiff (D)
14 June – First semi-final (A1 v B2), Cardiff (D)
15 June – Second semi-final (A2 v B1), Edgbaston (D)
18 June – Final, The Oval (D)
19 June – Reserve day (D)