Ashes: Mitchell Starc & Craig Overton ruled out of fourth Test with injuries

Mitchell Starc
Mitchell Starc has taken the most wickets in this Ashes series so far with 19
Australia v England, fourth Ashes Test
Venue: Melbourne Cricket Ground Dates: 26-30 December (23:30 GMT, 25 December)
Coverage: Ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, Radio 4 LW, online, tablets, mobiles and BBC Sport app. Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app.

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.

The tourists will be without pace bowler Craig Overton, who has a hairline fracture on a rib, and could hand a debut to Hampshire leg-spinner Mason Crane, 20, in Melbourne.

Somerset's Overton, 23, made his England debut in the second Test in Adelaide, removing Australia captain Steve Smith, and has taken six wickets at 37.66 across his two matches.

He picked up the injury in Adelaide and aggravated it during the third Test in Perth.

England also have bowling options in Jake Ball, Tom Curran and Mark Wood.

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."

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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