Australia’s pace spearhead Mitchell Starc is set to make his return from injury for New South Wales against South Australia in a one-day match on Friday.
The express bowler has been sidelined ever since aggravating a foot injury during the ICC Champions Trophy in England earlier this June.
The tall left-arm bowler had picked up the injury initially during Australia’s Test tour of India at the start of the year but has now recovered completely.
Australia’s bowling coach David Saker confirmed that Starc and Ben Hazelwood will play first-class cricket before the start of the Ashes series with England later this year.
Meanwhile Australia’s third pacer Pat Cummins has been rested for the T20I series against India after his exertions in the five-match ODI series.
“Whether the fast bowlers play all three of those we’ll wait and see,” Saker told reporters on Monday. “Three Shield games to shape the Australian team – it’s going to be good for everybody.”
Doubts remain over Victorian pacer James Pattinson’s fitness in the lead-up to the Ashes after fears that the bowler remains vulnerable to recurring stress fractures in his back.
“Three of them we know are on track,” Saker said. “James Pattinson’s had a little setback but we’re not sure how bad at the moment. Josh Hazlewood is on track to play the first Test. Mitchell Starc’s going really well and Patty’s obviously flying,” he added.
The Aussies will be hoping for a bowling attack of Mitchell Star, Pat Cummins, Ben Hazelwood and Nathan Lyon when the first Test against England at the Gabba on November 23.
Starc meanwhile remains confident that the current bowling attack are capable of emulating the Mitchell Johnson inspired whitewash of the arch-rivals in the Ashes 2013-14 series Down Under.
“We’ve got a really solid attack and we complement each other. If it’s not me, you’ve got pat Cummins who can bowl fast bouncers and Josh Hazlewood bowling consistent line and length,” Starc told the Daily Telegraph.
“It’ll be much like that attack did when Johnno took all those wickets, I think we complement each other really well.
“Throw in Jackson Bird and Coulter-Nile is back bowling really well so we’ve got five really good guys there and if Patto is fit to go, six.
“There’s probably an opportunity with a few of their younger guys or less experienced guys in the top order to get on top of them (in the first Test) much like Mitch (Johnson) did to some of their batsmen through that series.”
Starc is confident of playing the majority of the one-day Cup and has been slated to participate in the first two Sheffield Shield matches for New South Wales before turning his attention to the first Test at Gabba.
With England star Ben Stokes suspended indefinitely for his Bristol night club brawl arrest, Starc remains confident that the hosts can deal with the visitors with or without the all-rounder.
“He’s a big part of their team and if he’s on the plane we’ll assess him, otherwise we don’t need to worry about it,” he said.
“I’m sure they can (compete without Stokes). He probably makes their team a bit more balanced but he’s not the be all and end all of their team. There’s plenty of guys we need to worry about.”
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