In a surprising move, Australian pace sensation Mitchell Starc has announced his intention to return to the Indian Premier League (IPL) next year, marking his first possible appearance in the tournament since 2015.
The decision comes as Mitchell Starc views the IPL as ideal preparation for the upcoming T20 World Cup in the West Indies and the USA, slated for June 2024.
Starc, whose T20 reputation was sky high at one point of time, willingly stayed away from IPL and other franchise cricket for the longest time. But now, ending a nine-year exile, Starc is set to throw his name into the auction ring for the mini-auction for IPL 2024 that will be held later this year.
Starc has often talked about considering an IPL return but often opted to stay at home due to Australia's busy multi-format cricket schedule. But in 2024, with Starc at the fag end of his career and the T20 World Cup 2024 coming, the left-arm seamer is eyeing some high-level cricket.
Mitchell Starc and his tryst with IPL
It is, however, not like Starc was away from the IPL for all nine years. Back in 2014, the left-arm fast-bowling sensation made headlines when he was snatched up by the Royal Challengers Bangalore in a jaw-dropping auction deal.
However, the roller-coaster ride that is the IPL took an unexpected twist for Starc in 2016 when he found himself sidelined due to injury. It was a tough blow for the Australian speedster.
In 2018, a new chapter in Starc's IPL journey began when he was acquired by the Kolkata Knight Riders for a staggering sum. But fate had other plans, and injury struck once more, forcing Starc to miss out on the IPL action.
One of the key reasons Starc has been selective about participating in the IPL is his commitment to Test cricket. He has set his sights on achieving a significant milestone, aiming to play in 100 Test matches.
"BOWLED 'IM" 👀— ICC (@ICC) January 30, 2021
On his birthday, watch Mitchell Starc dish out some jaw-dropping yorkers 🍿😎 pic.twitter.com/QqcwTDEOAN
“Not just get to 100, I'd like to be good enough to be picked for 100 Tests,” Starc expressed. “And then the big one obviously in a couple of weeks is the World Cup, which in India just goes to another level.
And then you look at the one-day format, it's sort of four years in between World Cups, so where do I see myself in that mix? But I've got to get to the end of this World Cup first.”
Post the World Cup, the auction should come not too later and Mitchell Starc’s participation would mean that a lot of teams would keep him in his plans. While the left-arm quick hasn’t really featured in a lot of top flight T20 cricket outside of T20 internationals, his ability in ODIs in the powerplay and death overs makes him a prime target for IPL teams.
Starc’s popularity in previous IPL auctions is an indication of how things could go for him in the auction, but should he have an average World Cup, would the demand be as high? We’ll have to wait and watch.