A left pectoral injury has hampered Mitchell Starc's preparations for the World Cup, having ruled him out of the limited-overs tour of India, but the left-arm quick is hopeful of making a return during the ODI series against Pakistan. The Australian pacer, who sustained the injury during the second Test against Sri Lanka in Canberra, says he is "a couple of weeks" away from resuming bowling.
"The UAE is around the 15th of March so if all goes to plan I should be pretty sweet to be available for that one," Starc told cricket.com.au. "Obviously the boys go to India, hopefully it's a good tour for them there. I don't think I'll be ready for any stage of that. So it's up to the rehab group and the selectors and see how the rest of this summer goes."
Australia travel to India to play two T20Is (on February 24 and 27) and five ODIs (March 2-13) before the five-match ODI series in the UAE against Pakistan from March 22 to 31. While Starc won't be available for the India series, the Pakistan ODIs along with three practice matches against a New Zealand side in Brisbane in May and the two official warm-up matches for the World Cup, give him up to 10 50-over games for preparation before Australia begin their World Cup defence against Afghanistan on June 1.
Apart from the World Cup, the Ashes will also be on the back of Australia's mind with the fitness of the pacers assuming a lot of importance. Allan Border medallist Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Starc form the cog of Australia's pace attack.
Cummins, who had been hampered by a spate of injuries in the past, feels those issues as pretty much behind him and he's just focussed on the preparations for England, where he belives swing will play a big role.
"There's definitely things I always try and improve every time I train. Obviously swing is going to be quite a big factor (in England). Someone like (Mitchell Starc) bowled 150kph all summer, so trying to maintain pace like that. Every time I play and bowl I feel like I learn a little bit more," Cummins said.
"If you play a lot of cricket and you get injured, you can deal with that. This year I had a few months off with a back issue but I'd played so much cricket beforehand that I knew those big worries of the past were hopefully behind me for a while.
"I just had a lot of confidence and knew I'd come back bowling well, get back in the side and all things going well, have a good summer like I did the previous year. Just having the ability to look in the diary ahead and plan out tours in my head, and just worry about bowling well as opposed to if I'm going to be in the side or if I'm going to be fit enough," said Cummins.