Star NSW quicks keen to end season on high

A weary Mitchell Starc is prepared for one last assault in the Shield final before some time out.
A weary Mitchell Starc is prepared for one last assault in the Shield final before some time out.

Exhausted pacemen Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood have zero regrets about opting for rest ahead of Indian Premier League riches as they seek to end a marathon cricket season on a high.

Starc, Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon headline a star-studded NSW outfit that will face Queensland in the Sheffield Shield final, which begins on Thursday at Brisbane's Allan Border Field.

There has been limited respite for the trio since last August, when they departed Australia on a charter flight to England, and even since Australia's Test series against India ended almost three months ago.

Steve Smith, David Warner and Pat Cummins will spend coming weeks in India, where IPL organisers are on alert about the host nation's rising COVID-19 case numbers.

Hazlewood is among the Australians who withdrew from the Twenty20 tournament, while Starc is one of the world's best white-ball bowlers but didn't enter the auction.

"I'm pretty happy with the decision. This season has just gone and gone and gone, and kept going," Hazlewood said.

"We've seen a few (COVID-19) scares over there.

"I'm looking forward to putting the feet up after this one. It's our first break in quite a while.

"They (Starc and Lyon) are pretty tired ... there's signs of weariness, but one game to go."

Starc admitted it felt unusual to be preparing for his first Shield final in mid-April, one month into the NRL and AFL seasons.

The left-armer, whose father died of cancer in February, is ready to deliver a final salvo before he refreshes physically and mentally.

"It's a Shield final, so no doubt everyone can get up for that," Starc said.

"It's been a grind, but it has been for everyone and it's a big carrot there.

"My decision was to not go (to the IPL), have some time at home with family and a break from cricket.

"We're switching off. I will be anyway. You'll find me at a golf course or pub ... time away from bowling and letting the body heal a bit will be key."

Starc and Hazlewood should have approximately four weeks off before preparing for Australia's white-ball tour of the Caribbean, which is slated for June-July.

The fast bowlers remain unsure whether they will receive the coronavirus vaccine before that trip.

"It'd probably be nice to have before we take off, but I don't think it's a necessity," Hazlewood said, citing the strength of biosecurity bubbles.

The pair backed their young teammates to step up in the absence of IPL guns, adding the bonus-point rule should help ensure the Shield final is not a dull draw.

Australian Associated Press