ADELAIDE - Leading Australian paceman Mitchell Starc needs rest rather than surgery for his injured foot and may return for the February series in New Zealand, team bowling coach Craig McDermott said Sunday. Starc limped from the field on Friday's opening day of the day-night Test against the Black Caps in Adelaide with scans later revealing he had stress fractures in his right foot. He came out to bat in Australia's first innings and hit an unbeaten 24, but was unable to run freely on his injured foot.–AFP

"He (Starc) has obviously got a crack in his foot," McDermott told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"The good news for us is it's not going to be as long as we thought. He's in a (protective) boot for three weeks and we'll start working from there. So hopefully we can get him up for the (return) New Zealand series and the World Twenty20 where he's ranked number one in the world. He'll be very important for us in both series so we'll look forward to getting him back."

McDermott said it was "only a rest period (for Starc) at the moment", but that it was a wait and see situation. The series in New Zealand begins in February, with the World T20 in India the following month. McDermott said Starc, who has taken over as leader of the Australian pace attack following the retirement of Mitchell Johnson, had been bowling in pain for the past year.

"For the last 12 months he's done a wonderful job. His bowling's improved every game and his stature as a bowler is growing in world cricket, now on the Test match side of it as well which is great to see," he said.

McDermott identified Adelaide Test 12th man James Pattinson as a leading contender to replace Starc in the Australia team. "James was probably pretty close to playing here I would have thought so with him back (along with Josh Hazlewood and Peter Siddle) we've got our three quicks and (all-rounder) Mitchell Marsh," he said. McDermott said Western Australian bowler Nathan Coulter-Nile was also in contention.