Starc likely to miss Ashes

Mitchell Starc has become the latest young Australian fast bowler to be sidelined with a stress fracture of the lower back, an injury that puts him in doubt for the start of the Ashes series against England. Cricket Australia issued a statement saying Starc would be unavailable for a prolonged period but couldn't elaborate on the time frame for his return. The 23-year-old left-arm paceman was sent home from England due to back soreness after Australia's 3-0 Ashes series defeat, missing the ongoing limited-overs series.

Starc, who has 12 test caps, joins 23-year-old James Pattinson and 20-year-old Pat Cummins on the list of young Australian fast bowlers sidelined with back injuries. Cricket Australia doctor Justin Paolini said Starc had scans after returning to Australia showed an early stage low back stress fracture. "His management plan will be determined in the coming days but he is expected to be unavailable for a prolonged period," said Paolini. The next Ashes series starts Nov. 21 at The Gabba in Brisbane.

Starc took 11 wickets in three tests during the latest Ashes series, when he was shuffled in and out of the bowling attack. Pat Howard, Cricket Australia's high performance manager, said the injuries to the three young pacemen were a result of their early exposure to international cricket. "Historically, we've rarely seen three such promising young fast bowlers come through at the same time and all of a similar age so when they get injured of course that will be disappointing," Howard said. "We're doing our best to minimize longer term injuries, but we are also realistic that such injuries are possible." Jackson Bird was cleared of serious injury after he flew home from England with back soreness and is expected to be available for the Ashes series.