Sydney Sixers aren’t planning on Mitchell Starc returning in Saturday’s Big Bash League final as intrigue builds around the Test paceman’s fitness.
Starc, arguably the world’s best white-ball bowler when on song, opted to skip last year’s Indian Premier League but signed up to play BBL for the first time since 2014-15.
It has been almost a fortnight since the end of Australia’s four-Test series against India.
But the left-armer is yet to link up with the Sixers’ squad as he, national-team medicos and the club continue to mull over the results of knee and hamstring scans.
Equally, Starc is yet to be officially ruled out of the BBL season finale at the SCG.
“I haven’t spoken to Starcy at all,” Sixers batsman Daniel Hughes said.
“Given we’re pretty close to the game on Saturday, I would say that it’s probably more than likely going to be no.
“He’s played a lot of cricket and there’s a lot of cricket coming up.
“But this is a unique season and stranger things have happened.”
Sixers coach Greg Shipperd, who regained Test squad members Moises Henriques and Sean Abbott for the business end of the season, is yet to give up hope.
“We’re still trying to evaluate the final results of all those scans,” Shipperd told Big Sports Breakfast.
“That’s a job for us in the next couple of days … get to Mitch and see how he is and make those choices.”
The express paceman would be an almighty boost for the Sixers’ bid for consecutive BBL titles, which is already strong after they topped the table then trounced Perth Scorchers by nine wickets in a qualifying final.
It would also leave the club in the awkward position of dropping one of the bowlers who have done the bulk of the grunt work throughout the past two months; most likely left-armer Ben Dwarshuis.
Jordan Silk downplayed the prospect of Starc returning this weekend.
“We probably just prepare as if we don’t have him,” Silk said.
“It’s a really tough one. I don’t know if he’s fit for one.
“I’m sure he has that in the back of his mind, he wouldn’t want to rob someone of an opportunity in a grand final too.
“But obviously it’s his health and fitness first and foremost as to whether we’ll see him.”
The Sixers will face the winner of Thursday night’s final between Perth and Brisbane Heat at Manuka Oval.
“We’ll probably watch that game pretty closely as a team on Thursday night then we’ll discuss what we’re going to do on Friday morning,” Hughes said.
Hughes denied there would be any lingering bad blood with the Scorchers after AJ Tye’s wide ended Saturday night’s final – and also James Vince’s hopes of a century.