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Starc set to play despite workload spike

AAP logoAAP 10/11/2016 Rob Forsaith

Mitchell Starc is at increased risk of breaking down at Bellerive but Australia are unlikely to make a conservative call and rest the spearhead from their must-win Test against South Africa.

Starc and Josh Hazlewood delivered a combined 103.4 overs in the first Test at the WACA, where Peter Siddle suffered a fresh back injury that will force him to miss the second chapter of the three-match series.

Starc, who played in Perth despite an open wound in his leg, and Hazlewood bowled on four consecutive days of the contest.

Starc only returned the week prior, bowling 19 overs in a Sheffield Shield game.

It is exactly the sort of workload spike that Cricket Australia (CA) medical staff like to avoid, especially given the short turnaround before the second Test starts on Saturday.

A somewhat similar scenario unfolded in 2012, when Starc was controversially rested from the 2012 Boxing Day Test.

But he and Hazlewood bowled on Thursday in the nets, seemingly convincing coach Darren Lehmann they were right to go.

"If we were going to do that (rest Starc), I wouldn't have thought he would've bowled today," Lehmann said on Thursday.

"We make the final call (selecting underdone or overworked pacemen) ... it's always a challenge.

"It's about knowing your players, speaking to the medical staff ... also it's what's the wicket going to do? Is it going to rain? Will it be a flat wicket?

"We've always said if the bowler's not 100 per cent fit, he won't play."

CA even investigated the prospect of avoiding a stopover in Melbourne by chartering a flight from Perth, wanting to make the trip as painless as possible for its quicks.

But the Hobart runway was too short.

"They bowled today so they're fine, but you've got to take the players' word for it and trust them a little bit," Lehmann said of Starc and Hazlewood.

"The pleasing thing with the bowlers is they're very forward with their info."

Physio David Beakley acknowledged fast bowlers "are far more likely to get injured through workload spikes".

"It's pretty rare in Test cricket to bowl over 50 overs ... we've had two guys do it," Beakley said.

"If you double your workload from one week to the next, you're far more likely to get injured."

Beakley and CA medicos, speaking alongside Lehmann, offered a staunch defence of their approach to managing fast bowlers which had been criticised recently by former Test quicks Mitchell Johnson and Merv Hughes.

Beakley noted injury rates were down compared to 2011, when one in four quicks playing first-class cricket was injured, and Starc had bowled more deliveries in matches for Australia at age 25 than the likes of Glenn McGrath, Dennis Lillee and Brett Lee.

"The notion that bowling workload monitoring is about restricting bowlers from bowling is certainly not the case," Beakley said.

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