Australian pace spearhead Mitchell Starc has been ruled out of the boxing day Test match in Melbourne with a bruised heel, after picking up an injury in the third Test match at Perth. Jackson Bird will now replace Starc in the side.
Starc, the leading wicket-taker in the Ashes with 19 scalps, has been put in cotton wool ahead of an arduous tour of South Africa starting in March. Australia have already reclaimed the Ashes after taking an unassailable 3-0 lead in Perth to ensure the final two Tests in Melbourne and Sydney are dead rubbers.
“Hopefully it will be good enough,” he told Australia’s Nine Network on Tuesday. “It was touch and go for this one.”
“It was a bit more caution than anything. We will see how it comes up next week. Hopefully, it goes away in the next couple of days and I can get ready for Sydney.”
The home team, who have already clinched the five-game series, finished with 244 for three on an opening day, with David Warner making 103 and captain Steve Smith finishing 65 not out.