Mitchell Starc, whose participation in the four-Test series against India was ended because of a fractured foot, has expressed confidence that he will return to the Australian side for the ICC Champions Trophy in June.
Starc suffered a stress fracture to a metatarsal in his right foot after playing the first two Tests in Pune and Bangalore. It was a similar injury in the same foot that had he had suffered 18 months ago during the first Pink Ball Test against New Zealand in Adelaide in November 2015.
The pacer had to be replaced by Pat Cummins, who was himself making a comeback to the Australian Test side after six years. The New South Wales pacer responded with figures of 4/106 as Australia hung in for a hard-fought draw in the Ranchi Test, leaving the four-Test series level at 1-1 with one match to go in Dharamsala.
Starc’s previous injury raised fears that he might face a long injury lay-off once again. However, he quashed rumours when he recently explained the depth of the injury and said he should be fine for the Champions Trophy which will take place in two months time.
“It’s alright, it’s not snapped in half like the one 18 months ago,” Starc said in an interview with The Back Page on Fox Sports. “I did the third metatarsal last time, this one is the fourth. It’s a nice fracture, but it’s not displaced so I don’t need [to wear] a boot fortunately. So I’m still in the gym and getting ready for when I do come back. When that might be, I see the specialist on Thursday and hopefully I’ll get a clearer picture then. But the Champions Trophy is definitely not out of the picture at this time.”
Banter with Ravichandran Ashwin
Starc was involved in a small interaction with India’s Ravichandran Ashwin before his return home, another of many feisty exchanges witnessed on and off the field during this heated Test series.
Having seen Abhinav Mukund top-edge a six off his delivery during the second Test in Bangalore, Starc held a prodding finger to his forehead as he signalled to Mukund that he could expect a tougher challenge.
Having dismissed Starc in the second innings, Ashwin similarly held his finger to his forehead to come to the aid of his Tamil Nadu teammate Mukund and taunt Starc at the same time.
The Aussie bowler laughed off the exchange saying he was looking forward to India touring Australia to return the favour.
The 27-year-old believes it the heated exchanges in this series has been down to the world No 1 ranked Indian team expecting to easily beat Australia but being shocked with the 333-run massive first Test defeat in Pune.
“I look forward to bowling to Ashwin in Australia,” he said with a laugh. “[I might] take his advice and hit him on the badge. [The on-field banter has] probably come a lot more from their side than ours. There was a lot made of it before the series and there was so much hype before the series. I think we’ve just gone about the cricket that we have done for a long period of time now. [Australia’s fighting draw in the third Test] shows how we are as a group and the Indians have come hard, it’s almost a defence mechanism for them.
The left-armer, who has taken 148 wickets in 36 Tests, says Australia have been up for the challenge in tough conditions and against a team in great form.
“We won the first Test match, we [were there] for the challenge, they were scared of us beating them in India the way they’ve been playing. So it was almost like a defence mechanism for them and they obviously came out in the second Test match and performed really, really well and got back in [the series],” Starc said.
Australia have won the Champions Trophy twice in 2006 and 2009 but in the 2013 edition played in England, they crashed out in the first round as they failed to register a single win in the tournament.