MITCHELL Starc says Australia will embrace their underdog tag and they are determined to prove their doubters wrong in the upcoming Ashes series in England.
The 23-year-old fast-bowler was named in Australia’s squads for both the Ashes and the Champions Trophy one-day series and will be heading over to the UK later this month.
The talk coming out of England is that this is the weakest Australian Ashes side ever sent to do battle, but Starc was quick to dismiss those suggestions.
“Obviously they’re pretty confident at the moment with some of the things I’ve been hearing,” Starc told The Daily Telegraph. “We’ll go in as underdogs, but we’ll take that tag and run with it. We have a good chance to show our doubters how good we can be and come back with that urn.
“We’re going over to win, there’s no other reason we’re going over. We’ve had our doubters, but we’ll go over to win and we’ll compete very strongly.”
Starc left Australia’s tour of India early to have surgery on his left ankle. The operation was five weeks ago and he hasn’t bowled a ball since, but says that his recovery is on track and he will be fit to play in the Champions Trophy next month.
“I’ve got more range in it now than I have had for three or four years since my first operation,” Starc said.
“It’s feeling good and I’m easing back into it, but starting to ramp it up now with bowling next week. I’ve still got a couple of weeks up my belt to be ready to go for that first game in England.
“It’s all been in the gym and fitness work and getting right to run again, but hopefully I’ll bowl next week off a few steps. (I’m) taking a pretty aggressive approach on it, but I’m feeling good and I’m sure it will hold up.”
As well as being Australia’s front-line bowler, the tall left-armer has also impressed with the bat. He has a healthy average of 32.70 and a high score of 99, but laughed off suggestions he could be in line to compete for an all-rounder spot.
“All the bowlers like to work on their batting, it’s something we take pride in, scoring runs at the end,” Starc said. “I think if your top order is firing and you score 300 or 350 in a Test match and your tail can contribute 75 to 150, it puts you in a good position to really lead Test matches.”
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SOUTH Africa’s veteran all-rounder Jacques Kallis made himself unavailable for the Proteas’ Champions Trophy squad for personal reasons.While his skill and experience will be sorely missed, it presents an opportunity for all-rounder David Miller to stake a claim as Kallis’ long-term replacement.
The loss of Kallis prompted selectors to include batting all-rounders Faf du Plessis and Farhaan Behardien, while Colin Ingram will get a chance to bat higher up the order.
J.P. Duminy returns to the side after recovering from a severe ankle injury.
Captain A.B. de Villiers was named as the only wicket-keeper but Quinton de Kock is on standby should a replacement be required.
South Africa’s Champions Trophy Squad: A.B. de Villiers (C), Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, J.P. Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Colin Ingram, Rory Kleinverldt, Ryan McLaren, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Robin Peterson, Aaron Phangiso, Graeme Smith, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.