Ashes 2017: Mitchell Starc refuses to let up after firing back at James Anderson and England despite suffering injury

Jackson Bird will take Starc's place in the Boxing Day fourth Test, and has been tipped by Starc to 'stick it up' the England bowlers after their bowling taunts

Jonathan Liew
Melbourne
Sunday 24 December 2017 15:52
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Mitchell Starc laughed off James Anderson's claim that Australia 'have problems' beyond their current bowling attack
Mitchell Starc laughed off James Anderson's claim that Australia 'have problems' beyond their current bowling attack

Ahead of the Boxing Day Test, Australia have turned up the heat on England, taunting their pace attack for its lack of penetration during the Ashes series. Mitchell Starc derided comments by James Anderson about Australia’s lack of fast-bowling depth as “daft”. David Warner, meanwhile, said that Australia had “shut England up” by taking an unassailable 3-0 lead in the series, and that England are “not used to producing fast bowlers”.

The season of goodwill has clearly not extended as far as this series, if the last few days have been anything to go by. Earlier this week former England captain Michael Atherton stoked a debate on the ethics of Australia’s short-pitched bowling to the England tail. Most recently, the Australians were riled by comments made by Anderson in a BBC podcast that Australia “have got problems” with regard to their pace reserves, and that besides Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins, Australia “haven’t got much”.

Starc, who has been ruled out of the Boxing Day Test with a heel injury and will be replaced by Jackson Bird, poured scorn on Anderson’s comments. “They haven’t taken 20 wickets in the series and we have,” he said. “And they’re having a crack at our depth.

“I certainly don't like facing Jacko in the nets, so I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do to the English batters. I’m pretty sure he still bowls quicker than the Pom bowlers as well.

“I think they've got bigger things to worry about than the depth of Australian fast bowlers. I hope he [Bird] takes a five-for and sticks it up this daft comment from the Poms.”

Starc promised there would be no let-up on Australia’s bouncer strategy. “I'm pretty sure our guys have copped enough bouncers, and we haven't whinged about it yet,” he said. “As far as I know, our guys will keep bouncing their batters.

“The plan to the tail has always been the same. Be very aggressive, bowl fast, get up in their noses and have them jumping around. We're 3-0 up, and I hope by the end of the week it's 4-0, and they won't have too much else to say.”

Warner also took the opportunity to stick the boot into England’s all-time highest wicket-taker. “He can fire those barbs at us, but our depth is fantastic,” he said. “I just think England aren't used to producing fast bowlers.

Starc will not feature in the fourth Test due to a heel injury

“He talks about us being up all the time when we're in front. But he went very quiet as soon as he saw the wicket went quite flat at the Waca. We've probably shut them up a little bit at the moment. I feel like they were quite flat in WA (Western Australia).”

Starc’s injury means England will not get the chance to demand satisfaction on the field. And while England may see his absence as a potential opening, they should also be wary of Bird, the 31-year-old seamer who played the latest of his eight Tests exactly a year ago. Bird has been in superb form for Tasmania in Sheffield Shield cricket – 15 wickets in his last two games – and at 6ft 5in has the ability to generate awkward bounce from a good length. He has been on the fringes of the team for a good while now, touring India and Bangladesh earlier this year, and with Starc optimistic of returning at Sydney in the new year, will see this as his one chance to impress.

Jackson Bird will start at the MCG in place of Starc

England, meanwhile, have also lost a pace bowler, after Craig Overton’s fractured rib failed to recover in time. His place is likely to go to another debutant, probably Surrey’s Tom Curran, who edges out Jake Ball in the pecking order on the basis of his superior batting. However, a second spinner in Mason Crane is also a possibility if England feel the MCG surface will turn.

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