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Selectors eye Starc for Ashes
David Beniuk
18:23 AEST Thu Dec 13 2012

Australian selectors are likely to have had one eye on the upcoming Indian and Ashes tours when they preferred Mitchell Starc over Mitchell Johnson for the first Test against Sri Lanka.

The Australian team heads to India in February, part of a tough 2013 campaign that will also feature the Ashes series in England from June.

Whether they have room for two left-armers in their attack remains to be seen, but Johnson, at 31, is nearly 10 years older than 22-year-old Starc.

Selectors may view a home series against opponents Australia are expected to beat - Sri Lanka - as valuable Test experience for the New South Welshman.

Captain and selector Michael Clarke said his focus in picking an eleven for the opening Test at Bellerive in Hobart was purely on beating Sri Lanka.

But he conceded others in the Cricket Australia set-up were looking further ahead.

"The reason Mitchell Starc's there is because he's been next in line in the queue for a while," Clarke said.

"Whoever we left out in this Test match it was always going to be a topic of conversation.

"(Chairman of selectors) John Inverarity, (coach) Mickey Arthur and (performance manager) Pat Howard need to continue to look to India and then to the Ashes.

"But for me as a player and for the rest of this team, we're focused on this Test match."

Johnson returned strongly in the series-deciding loss to South Africa in Perth after he was recalled due to Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus being rested.

The West Australian finished with match figures of 6-164, while Starc also impressed at times in grabbing his 8-209.

Starc, though, had previously jumped ahead of the 48-Test veteran, whose injuries and erratic bowling had left him starting from scratch to get back to the form that made him the 2009 ICC international cricketer of the year.

"It probably wasn't as simple a choice as that," Clarke said.

"Sidds and Hilf come back into the team being two guys who've performed very well over the past 12 months for us (and) both being 100 per cent fit.

"Mitch should feel unlucky, there's no doubt about it."

Johnson needs four more Test wickets to join the 200-club, his 196 coming at 31.17 each.

Starc has 18 wickets from his five matches at 29.66.