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Australia pace bowler Mitchell Starc ruled out of Boxing Day Ashes Test

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Mitchell Starc will miss the Boxing Day Ashes Test in Melbourne because of his bruised heel.

Cricket Australia confirmed the absence of the hosts’ and series’ leading wicket-taker before practice at the MCG on Sunday morning local time, and that Jackson Bird will replace him against England.

Starc was described the previous day by his fellow Australia pace bowler Pat Cummins as having only a “50/50” chance of taking part in the fourth Test.

The left-armer, who has taken 19 wickets in three matches so far and been a driving force in Australia’s surge into a series-sealing 3-0 lead, has spent much of the past week on crutches to try to speed up his recovery.

"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," Bird, who hasn't played a Test match for over a year, said.

There remains some uncertainty over who will be Australia's wicket keeper in Melbourne too.

Tim Paine has kept the wicket for the first three Tests of the series, however, is yet to travel down to the MCG after his father-in-law very recently suffered a stroke.

Part-time keeper Peter Handscomb has been participating in various drills behind the stumps to suggest he could fill in if required.

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

Australia Nets Session

Meanwhile, England have been dealt their own injury blow in the form of Craig Overton.

The rib injury he picked up on debut during the second Test and then made worse during the Third means he is unlikely to feature.

England are now on a run of eight consecutive defeats in Australia and have never lost nine matches in a row.

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Topics:
The Ashes
England cricket
Australia cricket
Cricket

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