Australian fast bowler Mitchell Starc.
Australian fast bowler Mitchell Starc. Rick Rycroft

Starc walks away from $1m IPL pay day

CRICKET: Mitch Starc has made the stunning call to sacrifice a $1 million pay day so he can direct all his energy into delivering Australia Test gold on the sub-continent.

The world's premier fast bowler has pulled out of this year's Indian Premier League, which starts in April, deciding that resting his body for the national cause is more important than a seven-figure pay cheque at Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Despite all the focus on Australia's spinners, it's Starc who holds the key to victory in India, and a repeat of his destructive performance in Sri Lanka last year is vital to knocking down Virat Kohli's defences.

A few months later and Starc will be relied upon again to work his magic when Australia heads to the dust bowls of Bangladesh.

After missing the 2016 IPL due to injury, Starc could have been forgiven for insisting on making up for lost time in what is one of the most lucrative sporting tournaments on the planet.

But Starc's decision to rest himself so that he can go all out in Test cricket busts a theory that Australia's fast bowlers can't be trusted when it comes to the IPL, which holds its cash-frenzy auction in India today.

James Pattinson and Josh Hazlewood have yet to play an IPL match, while Pat Cummins has played just four matches since 2014.

Kolkata assistant coach and former Test great Simon Katich says the perception that players chase IPL riches to the detriment to their international careers is wrong.

"Mitch Starc and Josh Hazlewood vary their approach to the IPL depending on their load management and upcoming schedule," Katich said.

"For example, neither of these guys played IPL last year and Starcy is not going to play this year either.

"Mitch Marsh also sat out an IPL season in the lead-up to a previous Ashes campaign, as did a number of others."

The IPL, often maligned by Cricket Australia for putting its players at risk of injury, is ironically now being recognised as the secret weapon for Steve Smith's side in India.

Vice-captain David Warner, who has played IPL since 2009, credits his meteoric rise as a Test player in that time in part to the IPL.

The two-time Allan Border Medallist skippered Hyderabad to IPL glory last year and is adamant the background several players have at the tournament is giving Australia confidence ahead of the Indian Test series launching on Thursday in Pune.

"Playing over in India gives you a great exposure to a different culture, environment and conditions to play in," Warner said.

"It also allows you to be involved, to train and to play with the best in the world, which helps you learn the game by seeing how others from different nations go about it."

According to Katich, exposure to the IPL has added another layer to the abilities of Warner and Steve Smith and has been a catalyst behind Shaun Marsh's reputation as a sub-continental specialist.

"They're two that have played a lot of IPL and no one can argue that their performances on the world stage for Australia haven't been outstanding," Katich said.

"Shaun Marsh is widely regarded as one of the best batsmen in India, so playing IPL has certainly bolstered his confidence in those conditions.

"It's easy to criticise the players for being greedy and opting to use their leave time to play in the IPL, but the reality is that we are talking about a few Australian Test players who make the most of this opportunity.

"It's up to the individual player as to whether he thinks that it's going to benefit their game."

News Corp Australia

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