Hobart: Australian pace bowling stalwart Mitchell Starc doesn’t want to be rested for the fifth and final Ashes Test to be played at the Blundstone Arena here from January 14, saying he wants to play his part in the historic game.
Statistically, the 31-year-old Starc is the finest pink-ball bowler in Test cricket, snaring 52 wickets at 18.23. Starc had done a remarkable turnaround in the series after an unimpressive showing in the ICC T20 World Cup in the UAE, claiming 15 wickets and scoring 151 runs at an average of 75.50.
There are also talks about skipper Pat Cummins and Cricket Australia (CA) selection panel wanting to promote him in the batting order, given that he also has a superb batting average coming in at No. 9.
However, national selector Tony Dodemaide had hinted after the drawn fourth Test at the SCG that Starc could be rested for the D/N Hobart Test.
But the left-arm pacer is confident his body can hold up. He has so far featured in all four Ashes Tests.
“I won’t be putting my hand up for a rest,” Starc told SEN Afternoons on Wednesday. “They can drop me if they like, but I would very much like to be playing this week. Certainly from my point of view, I would love to continue on with the ball and play my part in hopefully a great Test match for Australia.
“We’ve got training tonight (Wednesday) and no doubt they (selectors) will want to have a chat throughout the course of the day. It’s another Test match for Australia, it’s pink-ball, it’s the fifth Test of an Ashes series, and hopefully we can finish off with a 4-0 result.
“From my point of view, I’m feeling really good and I’m confident in my body. I’ve got no question on being able to get through this week and perform my role for Pat (Cummins) and the team.”
Injury woes for England
England, meanwhile, could play Ben stokes and Jonny Bairstow purely as batsmen in the fifth Test, captain Joe Root said on Wednesday.
The tourists prevented a series whitewash with a hard-fought draw in Sydney where allrounder Stokes (side), wicketkeeper Jos Buttler (finger) and back-up glovesman Bairstow (finger) sustained injuries.
With both Buttler and Bairstow unable to take the gloves for Australia’s second innings in Sydney, Ollie Pope stepped in and took four catches behind the stumps.
Buttler has since returned home but Bairstow may not be fit enough to take his place.
“Certainly can pick Ben just as a batter, absolutely, and similarly with Jonny as well,” Root told reporters. “He’s (Bairstow) been playing as a batter anyway. So I’d say we’ve got to just see where they’re at, see what their bodies can handle.
“Jonny obviously has huge amounts of experience doing it. We need to see where he is at physically and then off the back of that we can we can make a decision.”
England have plucked Sam Billings out of the Big Bash League and added him to the squad as cover, and Root had no doubt he would perform well if given his Test debut in the pink-ball contest in Hobart.
“He brings in a lot of energy. Constantly smiling, he loves his cricket,” said Root. “He’s a great guy to have around the environment and I’m sure if he gets his opportunity he’ll throw everything into his opportunity.”