Starc on Manuka reconnaissance mission

Australia's Mitchell Starc is keen to get a feel for Manuka Oval for NSW against the Bulls.
Australia's Mitchell Starc is keen to get a feel for Manuka Oval for NSW against the Bulls.

Australia's first-choice bowling quartet will embark on a reconnaissance mission of Manuka Oval in this weekend's Sheffield Shield visit, with one eye on Canberra's maiden Test this summer.

NSW will host Queensland in a Shield clash at Manuka Oval starting Friday, with Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon all named to play.

It will mark both Starc and Cummins' maiden first-class games at the ground, while neither Lyon or Hazlewood have played red-ball cricket there in five years.

It comes ahead of the first Test to ever be held in the nation's capital at the venue against Sri Lanka from February 1, with Starc keen to get a feel for the ground against the Bulls.

"The fact is it's also now a Test venue we're playing at tomorrow," Starc said.

"I'm not sure what the wicket is going to be like but they could prepare something similar to what they are going to do for the Test match.

"It's another great chance for us to get a look at that and see what those conditions are like and keep that in mind for February when we play a Test match there."

Starc hasn't played for NSW in the Shield since he took two hat-tricks against Western Australia in a game at Sydney's Hurstville Oval last November.

The match could the only red-ball cricket he, Hazlewood and Cummins play before next month's first Test against India, with selectors opting to give them time in Shield rather than play in the national team's upcoming Twenty20s against South Africa and India.

It's also unlikely their workloads will be managed through the match, given the Test quartet will be the only four front-line bowlers at the Blues' disposal.

"That was essentially the reason we weren't considered for the T20s at all, to try and get some Shield cricket, some red-ball cricket ahead of Test matches coming up," Starc said.

"As bowlers we're under no illusion that you can't play every game. It is very important for us to find that red-ball form headed into a massive Test series.

"I think I've played two T20 games in the past four years.

"Although it would be nice to play every game that you can for Australia when available, you've got to look at the bigger picture sometimes."

Australian Associated Press