NSW stars Smith, Starc out of Shield clash with Victoria

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Steve Smith played out the final Test of the series against India with an elbow injury which has thrown his plans for the rest of the domestic season into doubt.

The champion batsman has withdrawn from NSW’s Sheffield Shield game against Victoria, starting Thursday, while star paceman Mitchell Starc is also out as he mourns the death of his father to cancer.

Steve Smith has withdrawn from NSW’s squad for the Sheffield Shield game against Victoria, starting Thursday, due to an elbow injury.Credit:Getty

Smith has been battling the issue since the third Test in Sydney, where he batted for a combined total of more than nine hours for scores of 131 and 81, but the discomfort has worsened to the point where he is reporting difficulties gripping the bat.

This would pose significant issues for many players, let alone one as particular about his routine as Smith – who has spoken in the past of forgetting how to hold his bat, finding his hands and needing his shoelaces hidden from view as he takes guard.

That Smith is missing a game in a year where opportunities to play longer forms of cricket are likely to be scarce has raised concerns among teammates about the severity of the injury.

Smith underwent elbow surgery two years ago as he was completing his 12-month ball tampering ban but that was to his right arm.

The former Test captain is aiming to return for the Blues’ Shield and Marsh Cup games against South Australia in Adelaide starting next weekend but his availability will depend on whether his condition improves in the coming days.

“I have had some pain in my elbow that’s gradually worsened since the Test against India at the SCG and it requires some rest and rehab,” Smith said.

“I am hoping I will be right to travel with the Blues to Adelaide for our games down their next week but we will have to see how it responds to treatment.”

Smith is due to play in the Indian Premier League starting April but his calendar afterwards is unclear with Australia’s international schedule yet to be finalised for the rest of the year.

“Knowing Steve Smith the way I do, for him to miss a game of cricket when we don’t have that much on it must be pretty sore or pretty irritating,” spin great Nathan Lyon said.

“Talking to him just before, he said he struggled to hold the bat. I don’t really know much more about it. For him to miss a game of cricket it mustn’t be ideal. Fingers crossed he’ll be back after he’s done his rehab and recovery.”

Starc’s immediate playing future is also unclear after his father Paul died after a battle with cancer on Tuesday.

The left-arm pace ace was given compassionate leave from the national team in December, missing the second and third Twenty20s against India, but returned to play all four Tests.

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