01222018

Injured Starc ruled out of fourth Ashes Test

Mitchell Starc

Mitchell Starc has taken the most wickets in this Ashes series so far with 19

Australia pace bowler Mitchell Starc has been ruled out of the Boxing Day Test against England with injury and will be replaced by Jackson Bird.

Starc has a bruised heel and has been on crutches for the past few days.

Australia have already sealed the Ashes, holding a 3-0 lead over England, who could hand a debut to leg-spinner Mason Crane in Melbourne.

Pace bowler Craig Overton is set to miss out for the tourists because of a hairline fracture of the rib.

Starc, 27, is the leading wicket-taker in the series, with 19. Fellow pace bowler Bird, meanwhile, has not played a Test for a year.

Speaking before Starc’s absence was confirmed, Tasmanian Bird said. “It would be unbelievable to play an Ashes Test on Boxing Day. I’ll be ready and preparing as I normally would for any Test match.”

Australia also have a doubt over wicketkeeper Tim Paine, who has not yet travelled to Melbourne after his father-in-law suffered a stroke.

Reserve batsman Peter Handscomb, a part-time keeper who has taken the gloves in one-day internationals, was going through keeping drills in practice on Saturday.

“It’s a terrible time for Tim and his family,” said Bird. “Hopefully we see him on Boxing Day, but it’s fully understandable if he needs time with his family to get over that.”

With the Ashes already gone, England are looking to avoid a second successive 5-0 whitewash down under.

They are also on eight consecutive defeats in Australia and have never before suffered nine successive losses.

“In our eyes it is now a two-Test series,” said wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow. “That’s how we’ve got to look at it, to go out there and try to win both these Test matches.

“Let’s try to put things right that we haven’t previously and start with a clean slate.”

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