Australian bowler Mitchell Starc has rubbed suggestions he should sacrifice his holiday period to compete in domestic leagues ahead of the 2024 T20 World Cup, vowing to focus his energy on Test cricket as long as his body allows it.
Last week, it was revealed that Starc and Australian Test captain Pat Cummins had decided not to participate in the 2023 Indian Premier League due to the “packed” international schedule.
Starc, one of Australian cricket’s most prolific wicket-takers, has not played IPL cricket since 2015, sacrificing approximately $10 million in additional salary by missing the last seven editions of the lucrative T20 tournament.
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The New South Welshman’s decision to skip the IPL has been widely praised, as it allows the paceman to conserve his energy and spend additional time with his wife – Australian wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy.
He also hasn’t played a Big Bash League match since 2014, primarily due to international commitments.
“If I take my Test cricket from the last 12-18 months, and how that’s benefited from the break that I’ve had through IPL periods, that’s paid for itself I guess,” Starc told reporters at the SCG on Saturday evening.
“That is part of the reason that I (skip the IPL), to give myself that break physically and mentally.
“The other side of it is to see and spend time with my wife away from cricket. It’s hard enough juggling one cricket schedule, let alone two. They’re probably the two sides of it.”
During the recent T20 World Cup campaign, Starc was dropped from the Australian starting XI for the final Super 12 match against Afghanistan at Adelaide Ovala decision he had “strong opinions” about.
The left-armer’s record in the 20-over format has dipped considerably over the last couple of years – he has leaked 8.45 runs per over in T20 Is since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, compared to 6.91 before the world went into lockdown.
Some critics claimed Starc needed to challenge himself against high-quality opposition in the IPL to improve his death bowling, but the 32-year-old rubbished suggestions that playing domestic T20 leagues is a necessity.
“If I’d gone in there, having no break and playing 12 months of the year, what does that affect?” he said.
“Does it affect my body? Do I break down? Does it affect my red-ball cricket?
“You can’t just sit there and go, ‘He should go to the IPL because he’d be a better T20 bowler.’ Whats the downside of that? Do I give away a format of the game because I’m playing 12 months of the year?
“I don’t regret any of those decisions not to go.”
Meanwhile, Starc took a candid swipe at administrators for recent scheduling, which has made it practically impossible for cricketers to represent their country in all three formats.
Australia’s bilateral ODI series against England commenced less than four days after the T20 World Cup finalwhere Jos Buttler’s men were crowned champions for a second time.
“It’s certainly impossible at the moment to play every game as a three-format player,” Starc said.
“We’ve seen that over the last few years, sometimes there’s two Australian teams playing at the same time in different continents in different formats.
“It’s impossible for everyone to play every single game of cricket in a 12-month period now with the way they are scheduling things. They see a break and put a series on.”
Starc also sympathized with the sport’s fans – crowd numbers have been underwhelming for international white-ball matches over the last few years, partly due to the oversaturated calendar.
“There’s a game every day,” Starc said.
“It’s not for me to sit here and decide on a schedule, but it is what it is. We’ve come off a T20 World Cup into a three-match one-day series into five Tests, the WBBL is heading into finals at the minute, then you’ve got BBL, we go to India for Tests and white-ball, the girls have got a T20 World Cup into the IPL. There’s a game of cricket every day of the week.
“How do you ask people to go spend 400-500 bucks at a day of cricket three days a week? It’s a busy schedule for players and staff and fans.”
The packed calendar has forced multiple high-profile cricketers to start prioritizing formats – England superstar Ben Stokes retired from ODI cricket earlier this year despite being one of the world’s best all-rounders.
If Starc was forced to choose one of the three formats, he wouldn’t hesitate.
“Tests always first,” he said.
“Tests far above white-ball. I’ll decide on the rest as I go and where my body’s at and how I feel about it.
“I’d love to, selection and form pending, very much like to continue playing Test cricket as long as we can.”
Starc was named Player of the Match Following Saturday’s 72-run victory over England at the SCG after taking 4/47, his best ODI bowling figures of the year, to help Australia secure an unassailable 2-0 series lead.
The third and final ODI between Australia and England gets underway at the MCG on Tuesday afternoon, with the first of the dead rubber scheduled for 2.20pm AEDT.