Qantas Tour of the West Indies

I've got the hunger back, warns Starc

Ominous news for opposition batsmen as pace bowler says he is physically and mentally refreshed after injury-enforced absence

Martin Smith in Georgetown, Guyana

3 June 2016, 05:43 PM AEST

I've got the hunger back: Starc

Mitchell Starc says his enforced absence from the game over the past six months has invigorated him after constant touring left him jaded following the Ashes series last year.

But he's cautioned it may take some time before he completely returns to the form that made him the undisputed fast-bowling king in white-ball cricket.

Weather and selection permitting, Starc will play his first game of cricket in 189 days when Australia open their one-day international tri-series against the West Indies at the Providence Stadium on Sunday, a 20-minute drive through the weaving streets of Guyana's capital Georgetown from the team's hotel that sits on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.

All you need to know: Complete tri-series guide

The 26-year-old hasn't been sighted on a cricket field since he bravely hobbled through for the winning runs in the day-night Test at the Adelaide Oval on November 29, with ankle and foot surgery forcing him out of action for the rest of the Australian summer, the ICC World T20 and the Indian Premier League.

Despite the frustration of another long-term absence from the game – it was the third time he's been sidelined with a serious ankle problem – the six months he's spent away from playing since that match in Adelaide has been a welcome change compared to the previous six-month period, in which he played 10 Tests, two other first-class matches, 11 one-day games and one T20 and sent down just short of 450 overs and countless more in the nets.

At the conclusion of an exhaustive three-month Ashes tour last September, Starc says he was cooked.

Starc sits down with journalist Martin Smith in Guyana //

"Coming off the end of the Ashes and the one-day stuff, I was pretty mentally fatigued and it was nice to have a little break at home through the Matador Cup (last October)," Starc told on Friday ahead of Australia's first training session on this Qantas Tour of the West Indies.

"So having six months off, although it was through injury, was nice to refresh a little bit and go through what I have to do in terms of cricket and strength wise.

"It was nice to spend three or four months in the gym to get that strength back that I'd lost over 12 to 18 months of cricket.

"It was nice to get that back, rest the little things that I needed to and make sure the ankle and the foot were 100 per cent right before I started to play cricket again.

"I think I've ticked all those boxes and that hunger has definitely come back a lot stronger that it was at the end of that Ashes series."

WATCH: Aussies splash about in wet Guyana

That Starc's hunger and desire has returned is an ominous sign for the Windies and Proteas, who will do battle in the series opener here on Saturday (3am AEST, Fox Sports 5).

Captain Steve Smith and Test opener Joe Burns, who both faced Starc in the nets at the Bupa National Cricket Centre in Brisbane in the weeks before this tour, reported the left-armer was ready to "scare" batsmen again in the upcoming series.

And certainly Australia's batsmen who faced him in the nets on Thursday, where he bowled eight overs in the team's first hit out of the tour, would agree.

But after such a long time out of the game, Starc is as interested as anyone to see just how fast he bowls when he finally returns to match action.

"I feel in a good place," he said. "I really needed those sessions (in Brisbane) to tell myself that I was ready to bowl.

WATCH: Starc fine-tunes in Brisbane

"I had a lot of net sessions in Sydney and a lot of bowling to empty nets, so it was nice to come up to Brisbane and bowl to a few batsmen and see how it was all coming along.

"It might take a couple of games to see where that pace is and see if I can get that back. It doesn't normally happen straight away, especially for the quicks.

"It'll be interesting to gauge where that's at, but its feeling good.

"I've had a few months of bowling under the belt, starting from a couple of steps to full tilt in Brisbane before the tour. So it's feeling good and they're coming out pretty nicely."

WATCH: Smith's suprirse birthday party

With a tour of Sri Lanka on the horizon and another lengthy Australian summer not far away, caretaker coach Justin Langer said earlier this week that managing workloads of players like Starc will be one of the biggest challenges on his first tour as head coach.

Langer and rookie bowling coach Adam Griffith would have been relieved the wet weather that forced the cancellation of Wednesday's training and is forecast for most of the next week cleared on Thursday and allowed the Australians to complete their first session of the tour, and they took full advantage with a three-hour workout in the steamy afternoon conditions.

Quick Single: Warner re-focuses for tri-series battle

But with rain forecast on Friday morning and again on Saturday, Thursday's session may well be the only chance the tourists have to get miles in their legs before Sunday's opening match.

And the need to take a cautious approach early in the series, particularly with the fast bowlers, means the likes of Starc, fellow quick Josh Hazlewood and pace-bowling allrounder Mitchell Marsh are far from certain selections to take on the Windies.

WATCH: Langer details coaching ambitions

"The concern for me is that some of the guys haven't played much cricket at all and that might be important when we come to picking the first team," Langer said on Tuesday.

"Some of the guys who have been playing cricket in India, albeit Twenty20 cricket, but they've been playing cricket and you can never underestimate that.

"So it's going to be a challenge to get the balance right between giving guys match practice who haven't had practice matches and getting the best team on the park.

"So there's challenges there, there's no doubt about that."

Who will be holding the 🏆 at the end of the month? It all begins tomorrow with WI v SA #TriNations

A photo posted by (@cricketcomau) on

Meg Lanning Steve Smith