The 2015 Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket season gets underway April 8, but the league will be missing one of its most important stars, at least for the first couple of weeks, as the cricket world’s most lucrative — and controversial — professional tournament gets underway for its eighth annual competition.
Mitchell Starc, the 25-year-old Australian fast bowler who not only led his nation to the Cricket World Cup championship last month but earned himself the “Man of the Tournament” award along the way, is now nursing a knee injury and will not be available to his IPL club, Royal Challengers Bangalore, for at least the team’s first two or three matches.
“Mitchell had some knee soreness during the latter stages of the World Cup,” said Alex Kountouris, lead physio for the Australia national side, “He will have a short period off to rest and recover, before being reassessed. We estimate his recovery time will be between two-three weeks.”
Starc led all bowlers at the recently conclude World Cup, claiming 22 wickets in Australia’s 10 matches — which included one washout. He averaged just 10.18 runs per wicket with a sparkling economy of 3.5 per over.
Australia is likely taking extra care to preserve the fitness of their opening bowler, with a Test series tour of the West Indies coming up in June — followed by the all-important Ashes series the following month.
But Australia’s gain will be Banglore’s loss. The franchise struggled to a 5-9 record in IPL 7 last year, failing to qualify for the league’s knockout round.
In the 2015 IPL, Banglaore has been counting on red-hot left-armer Starc — who took 14 wickets in 14 games for the club in 2014 — as well as New Zealand’s Adam Milne — to lead a bolstered bowling attack and turn the team’s performance around.
But right-arm Milne was forced to withdraw from the World Cup with an injury, and how much he’ll be able to play in IPL 2015 remains doubtful.
Starc may not make his first appearance for Royal Challengers Bangalore until April 22, in IPL 2015 Match 20, when the team hosts Chennai Super Kings.
The 60-match, eight-team IPL 2015 cricket season concludes its group stage on May 17, with four knockout stage matches winding up with the IPL 2015 Final at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on May 24.
The IPL plays T20 cricket, in which each side is allotted just 20 overs — 120 balls — making for a quicker, faster-paced game compared to the 50-overs version played in the Cricket World Cup.
For the first time, all 60 IPL 2015 cricket matches will be available to United States viewers via ESPN Cricket, which charges a one-time $79.99 fee for the season and $69.99 to subscribers who paid for all World Cup matches through the ESPN live online video service, which is available on all mobile devices as well as personal computers and the Roku set-top box.
[Image: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images]