Ankle surgery was a great move for me and might even increase my pace, says Mitchell Starc

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Starc no longer feels any pain or discomfort in his ankle

Australia pace maestro Mitchell Starc believes the decision he made to surgically repair his ankle over a month and a half ago is really starting to pay dividends as he feels lighter on his feet and may even lead to an increase in his bowling speed.

Starc has been named in Australia’s Ashes and Champions Trophy squad and is expected to be fully fit for both events after succumbing to the ankle injury during Australia’s tour of India in March, upon where he was flown home and had surgery.

Given the amazing swing Starc is able to produce when bowling, all pundits and former players are branding him as the man to watch during the back-to-back Ashes series since he has the potential to really trouble England’s batsmen.

As of right now though, Starc is focused on getting himself back in shape for the Champions Trophy and revealed that he no longer feels any discomfort whatsoever in his ankle.

“The spur on the inside didn’t bother me much; that’s why we were talking about getting through hopefully 12 months [without surgery],” Starc said. “But we’d found one on the outside that had broken off, that was the one that bothered me most in India, and I didn’t know about that one until I got back to Australia. That Test in Mohali it was pretty painful… so with the timeline that we needed to be right for the Ashes, we needed to come home and get it done.

“I’ve been back in the gym, doing my fitness stuff for three weeks now, so I’m feeling good. I’ve got more movement in my ankle now than I did after the first surgery three or four years ago. It could work in my favour, maybe an extra yard or two of pace if I’m lucky. But the pain’s gone now so that’s the main thing, [I’ve had] a few months of bowling through pain and a few injections but I’m past that and ready to hit the ground running.”

Australia’s One Day International Cricketer of the Year Clint Mckay is also expected to make a full recovery from the stress reaction he suffered in his right foot and be fully fit in time for the Champions Trophy.

Australia ODI vice-captain George Bailey, who is currently representing Hampshire in England’s County Championship, is pleased to have both Starc and McKay back in the squad as it has seriously bolstered the side’s pace bowling attack.

“I think they’ve both played enough cricket now to know what they can and can’t do,” Bailey said. “One of the pleasing things for me coming to the back end of the summer was that it felt like we were starting to have a stronger squad, or a stronger team balance. One of the keys for this sort of tournament is making sure that you’re not necessarily relying on one or two, but that on any given day, any one of your squad can step in and do a really important role for you.”

The Australians have won the Champions Trophy twice before, in 2006 and 2009, but only four members of the 2009 squad – Michael Clarke, Shane Watson, Mitchell Johnson and Adam Voges – have been included in this year’s team.

“It is a big tournament,” Bailey said. “We’ve won it twice. It’s a big goal for us and a point to prove, that we’re back on track with our one-day cricket and see if we can win it for the third time. I think we’ve had enough wake-up calls over the last 12 to 15 months to know that we’re not a powerhouse in one-day cricket any more.

“I still think we can be the best side in the world at one-day cricket but certainly not by the margin it was two, three or four years ago. I don’t think there’s any pressure about being defending champions. The longer-term goal for us is to make sure we play more consistent cricket.”

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