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I've been released from my KKR contract, reveals Mitchell Starc

Australia fast bowler Mitchell Starc revealed on Wednesday that he was released by his IPL franchise Kolkata Knight Riders ahead of the 2019 season of the tournament. Starc, a former member of Royal Challengers Bangalore, was snapped by the Knight Riders in the 2018 auction for a whopping INR 9.4 crore. He missed the last season with a leg injury and stands to miss out on the tournament for a fourth straight year.

Although the 28-year-old hasn’t ruled out the possibility of playing for another franchise in the forthcoming edition, he is considering the benefits of a well-rested winter with the World Cup and the Ashes series to come in the UK next year.

“I got a text message two days ago from the owners of Kolkata saying I’ve been released from my contract, so at the moment I’ll be home in April,” Starc told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday (November 14). “I didn’t go last year with my tibia injury. It was a great opportunity to freshen the body up and let it heal by itself. Barring the little niggle in the hammy, I feel pretty good with my body and my strength and the rest of it.

“If I don’t play the IPL next year it’s a good opportunity to freshen up for a massive six months of cricket in the UK. At the moment for me, I just want to play as much Test cricket and one-day cricket for Australia as I can. IPL is a lovely bonus on the pay packet but if I miss that to play more Test matches then I’m taking that option,” he added.

Starc’s comments come in the backdrop of reports in Australian medium about the national-team players seeking longer central contracts to compensate for the financial loss incurred by skipping lucrative T20 assignments. Neil Maxwell, the players’ union executive member and Cricket NSW Board director, recently pushed for a five-year national contract for Pat Cummins, a negotiation that’ll now be addressed to and by the new interim performance chief Belinda Clark.

Starc, to his knowledge, said that players remained on one-year contracts with the national board. “I’m sure it [longer deals] would [give greater financial security] for a lot of people. It’s probably no different to working life outside of the sporting field.

“For us, we’re not so worried about contracts at the moment. It’s about performing on the cricket field. That will take care of the rest of it at contract time, whenever that is.”

Meanwhile, former Australia fast bowler Damien Fleming said long-term contracts could be considered only if players agreed to not take part in any T20 tournaments outside of Australia. “I think it is worth talking about. If they are going to forego other domestic T20 comps. You can’t have everything,” he said.

“If your focus is going to be international cricket and Australian domestic cricket and maybe grade cricket, then I could live with it – probably more with fast bowlers because they are more of a premium. I certainly think it’s worth a conversation.”

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