Australian fast bowler Mitchell Starc has pulled out of the 2017 Indian Premier League, giving up a contract worth close to one million dollars to instead take some time away to freshen up for the year ahead.
It was announced on Sunday that Starc and the Royal Challengers Bangalore had "mutually decided to discontinue their association" and Starc will also not enter Monday's player auction.
Starc missed the IPL last year due to injury but had been retained for the upcoming season and was expected to take part.
But Cricket Australia has confirmed Starc will instead take some time off after playing all but one of Australia's internationals over the summer.
"At this point in time after a long summer and with a big tour of India still ahead I think it is in my best interests, both physically and mentally, for me to have a break, spend time with my family and take the opportunity to work on getting back to full fitness," Starc said in a statement.
"I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with Bangalore and I certainly hope to be back playing for them in the future and wish them all the best in this year’s IPL."
Cricket Australia's Executive General Manager of High Performance Pat Howard said Starc will now target a return for the ICC Champions Trophy in June ahead of a possible Test tour of Bangladesh and then the Ashes next Australian summer.
"Mitch has had a very big summer, bowling a high number of balls, and has managed extremely well considering the less than ideal preparation he had leading into the season with his left leg injury," Howard said.
"He still has a large workload to get through in the next six months with four Tests against India and then the ICC Champions Trophy after the player leave period in May.
"Following discussions with both Mitch, Royal Challengers Bangalore and our own medical staff it has been agreed that Mitch would benefit considerably from a break in cricket to allow him to fully rehabilitate and strengthen his body ahead of the Champions Trophy."
Starc isn't the only Aussie quick to skip the IPL, with key pace weapons Josh Hazlewood and James Pattinson having never played a match in the tournament.
Meanwhile, Australia skipper Steve Smith has been elevated to the captaincy of his IPL franchise for the upcoming tournament.
The Rising Pune Supergiants have confirmed that Smith will take over as skipper from former India captain MS Dhoni for the tournament, which starts on April 5.
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The Supergiants finished second-last in 2016 after a campaign dotted with injuries to key players, including Smith and fellow overseas players Kevin Pietersen, Faf du Plessis and Mitchell Marsh.
Despite their injury problems, franchise owner Sanjeev Goenka has labelled his team's first season in the competition a "failure".
"We have opted for Steve Smith as captain of RPS for the forthcoming IPL season," Goenka told India Today.
"Despite having a good side, the team did not get expected results last year.
"Last year we failed. We could have done much better."
"(Dhoni) was cooperation personified when we conveyed the decision to him."
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The decision to remove Dhoni from the RPS captaincy comes after he gave up the ODI and T20 captaincy of India last month.
Smith is one of four Australians confirmed to return to Pune this year, along with Marsh, Adam Zampa and Usman Khawaja.
Test batsman Peter Handscomb wasn't retained by the franchise in the off-season and has opted against entering himself in Monday's player auction following his decision to sign with English county side Yorkshire.
RPS will have around AUD $3.40 million at their disposal for the auction in Bengaluru and will no doubt be chasing the signature of a big-name fast bowler having discarded six quicks – including Aussie Scott Boland – in the off-season.
Their Kiwi coach Stephen Fleming, who led the Melbourne Stars to the KFC Big Bash League semi-finals last month, will also be looking to replace Pietersen, who decided not to enter himself in the auction.
Cricket.com.au will provide live coverage of the 2017 Indian Premier League auction on Monday Feb 20 from 2.30pm AEDT
AUSTRALIANS IN THE IPL AUCTION
(reserve price in AUD in brackets)
Mitchell Johnson, Pat Cummins (both $390,000), Brad Haddin, Nathan Lyon (both $292,000), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Dan Christian (both $195,000), Brad Hogg, Nic Maddinson, Callum Ferguson (all $97,000), Sean Abbott, Ben Dunk, Michael Klinger, Mitchell Swepson, Ben Laughlin, Billy Stanlake, Fawad Ahmed, Michael Beer, Ben Dwarshuis, Joe Burns, Sam Heazlett, Johan Botha, Ben Hilfenhaus, Alex Ross, Tom Cooper, Jack Wildermuth (all $58,000), Chris Green, Ashton Turner (both $39,000), Ben McDermott, Nick Buchanan, D’Arcy Short (all $19,000)
AUSTRALIANS ALREADY CONTRACTED FOR THE 2017 IPL (16)
Rising Pune Supergiants: Usman Khawaja, Mitchell Marsh, Steve Smith, Adam Zampa
Gujarat Lions: James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, AJ Tye
Kings XI Punjab: Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis
Kolkata Knight Riders: Chris Lynn
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Travis Head, Shane Watson
Sunrisers Hyderabad: Ben Cutting, Moises Henriques, David Warner