Mitchell Starc will be a key figure in Australia’s T20 World Cup campaign © Cricket Australia via Getty Images
Mitchell Starc is prepared to improvise to give himself the best chance of being ready for Test cricket amid a schedule crunch which is further complicated by the quarantine requirements in Australia.
Starc is one of Australia’s multi-format players who could be impacted by the very tight turnaround between the T20 World Cup and start of the home Test season against Afghanistan in Hobart.
If Australia and/or Afghanistan reach the final in the UAE on November 14 there would only be 13 days before the first ball of the Test on November 27 which is inside the mandatory 14-day period returning travelers have to quarantine for.
Various solutions could be sought by Cricket Australia with one option to try and gain exemption for the Test to be played under the quarantine rules used against India in Brisbane last season following the Covid-19 outbreak in Sydney.
For Australia’s Test players who are part of the T20 World Cup the Afghanistan match will be their only chance of red-ball preparation ahead of the Ashes starting on December 8.
“It’s a very interesting one,” Starc said from St Lucia. “I’m sure Cricket Australia are thinking about it and putting plans in place. The way of the world at the moment throws up a lot hurdles and then you are throwing two weeks of quarantine, like we are going to have to do coming back from this tour as well, there’s a lot of question marks.
“You look back to the summer and we played Sydney under restrictions, Brisbane was under full quarantine so there’s certainly precedence set there in how we approach different games especially in Australia.
“In that respect I don’t think there’s any hurdles to get around in playing cricket under quarantine conditions, it’s just some of the finer details that government and cricket will have to work together [to sort out].
Finch hints at more flexible Australia line-up for T20 WC
“But for the few multi-format players we all want to play as much cricket as we can, Test cricket is certainly the pinnacle for a lot of us, certainly it is for me, as is a World Cup so it will be hard to pick and choose.”
Limited-overs captain Aaron Finch has made clear he expects to have all first-choice players available for the World Cup. “The T20 World Cup is an international event, the one piece of [limited-overs] silverware that was eluded us. They’ll be no management for Test cricket, I can tell you that much,” he said last week.
Although for the next six weeks in West Indies and Bangladesh Starc’s attention will be on white-ball bowling, as the Test matches draw nearer towards the end of the year he will delve on past experiences to ensure he is ready.
“There’s been some really tight turnarounds whether it be white-ball tournaments into Test series or away tours where we’ve had to improvise and make sure we get a little bit of red-ball bowling in so it wouldn’t be the first time,” he said. “Throws up another hurdle with quarantining after a World Cup and the tight turnaround we might be faced with, but the multi-format players have all played cricket for quite a while now and have experienced the same situation in slightly difference circumstances before.”
Mitchell Starc during the 2012 T20 World Cup © AFP
For now, Starc is working on fine-tuning his T20 skills as he sets his sights on a first appearance at a T20 World Cup since 2012 having missed the 2016 edition in India due to injury. If the Bangladesh tour gets final approval there will be up to 10 T20s over the next month and while Starc will be unlikely to feature in them all it’s a rare chance for an extended focus on the format.
Starc was a central figure in the successful run Australia’s T20 side put together in 2019-2020, featuring in eight of the nine matches against Sri Lanka, Pakistan and South Africa, and then played the three-match series against England last year. He only had one game against India last season due to withdrawing from the squad, did not play in the BBL and opted against the IPL with the hectic schedule in mind.
“It’s a great opportunity for the group to start preparing with a bit more focus on that World Cup,” he said. “Don’t think I’ve played 10 T20s in the last four years let alone in the space of a few weeks so personally it would be nice to get a bit of a rhythm of T20 cricket.
“The back end of the summer I was heavily focused on the red-ball so put the white-ball to the side. To prepare for this tour it’s all been white-ball focused with what’s coming up in the next few months. Preparing for shorter spells, more of a focus on staying unpredictable or [using] variations. I don’t change a whole lot in my preparation across the formats but certainly they’ll be a lot more planning and focus on tactically what we’ll take on this series.”
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.