Bird ready to replace injured Starc


Australia paceman Jackson Bird hopes Mitchell Starc is fit to play the Boxing Day Ashes Test against England, but he will be ready if needed.

Starc, the leading wicket-taker this Ashes series with 19, is in doubt for the fourth Test starting Tuesday due to an injured heel.

Bird, whose most recent Test appearance was Boxing Day last year, said he would be ready if required.

"I hope for Mitch's sake his heel's not too serious and he does get up," he told a news conference Saturday.

"But it'd be unbelievable to play an Ashes Test on Boxing Day. Either way, I'll be ready."

Australia's pace attack - Starc (19 wickets at 21.05), Josh Hazlewood (15 at 23.20) and Pat Cummins (11 at 30.09) - have impressed this Ashes, helping Australia reclaim the urn.

Bird, 31, said it was tough not to be getting a chance, but he understood the position he was in.

"I'm realistic about where I sit and the fast bowlers ahead of me," he said.

"You can only have 11 players in the team and we've got such good fast bowlers at the moment."