Australia captain Steven Smith has welcomed the return of a fit Mitchell Starc for the upcoming tri-series against South Africa and West Indies, and hoped that the presence of the fast bowler could “scare” a few opposition batsmen. He also said that allrounders Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Marsh, who had picked up side strains during the IPL, were recovering well from their injuries and were expected to be fit for the series.
Starc had been training at the National Cricket Centre in Brisbane with members of the Australia ODI squad who were not playing in the IPL. The left-arm quick had suffered a stress fracture to his right foot during the inaugural day-night Test against New Zealand in Adelaide last year, and underwent surgery in December on a problematic right ankle that had been afflicted by bone spurs regularly in the bowler’s career. He missed Australia’s tour of New Zealand as well as the World T20, before he was named in the squad for the tri-series in March.
“It was nice to be able to get outside and face a few of our bowlers,” Smith said before the side’s departure to the West Indies. “They are bowling really well and they are ready to go. [It’s] just nice to have Mitchell Starc back, bowling the way he is. Hopefully some of the South African and West Indian batsmen are a little bit scared. He’s looking fresh and bowling at good pace so it’s exciting to have him back. Hopefully he can get some success straightaway, pick-up where he left off.
“It would have been nice to have Mitchell at the World T20 obviously. The set of skills he brings to the game, he knows what he is doing 100% of the time and he’s that sort of banker. It’s nice to have him back and hopefully he can take up where he left off.”
Starc has been the leading bowler for Australia across formats since the start of 2014; in 50 international games in this period, he has taken 114 wickets, of which 53 have come in ODIs at an average of 19.47. He was the joint leading wicket-taker in the 2015 World Cup, and Player of the Tournament, with 22 dismissals in eight games, including a career-best 6 for 28 against New Zealand at Eden Park. It was his second ODI six-for in a period of six weeks in early 2015, with the first coming against India.
Maxwell and Marsh were among five Australian players – along with Smith, Shaun Marsh and John Hastings – who returned home early from the IPL due to injuries. Smith confirmed that he had recovered from his wrist injury and said Maxwell and Marsh had coped well during the practice sessions in Brisbane. The only loss for Australia ahead of the tri-series was Hastings, who was ruled out due to an ankle injury.
“They are looking good. Maxwell has had a chance to recover and is looking fine for the first game,” Smith said. “We will wait till we get over there and the medical staff can assess him then but he’s been tracking well. Mitch Marsh has been getting through his loads up here. He’s been bowling well, and batting well as well. So I think they both can be ready to go.
“It’s [the wrist injury] all good now. It’s been nice to rest it the last couple of weeks and everything is going good. I feel like I am hitting the ball well so hopefully some runs for me in the upcoming games.”
Smith was also looking forward to working with former Australia batsman Justin Langer, who will be standing in for coach Darren Lehmann on the West Indies tour. Lehmann is expected to resume coaching the side for the tour of Sri Lanka in July.
“Yes it will be different not having Boof around but Langer’s done a terrific job with Western Australia in the last couple of years and it’s been a while since I have worked with him. He was the batting coach when I first came into the Australian side and he was a fantastic batting coach,” Smith said. “From all reports he has been doing terrific things at WA. I am looking forward to having a difference voice around, something a little bit different for the guys and it’s a really exciting time for Australian cricket to have someone of Justin’s calibre in the group.”