Injured Australia bowler Mitchell Starc hopes his replacement Jackson Bird “sticks it up” England in the fourth Test, which starts on 26 December
MELBOURNE: Starc, the leading wicket-taker in the series with 19, misses Melbourne’s Boxing Day Test with a bruised heel.
Last week England’s James Anderson said Ashes winners Australia have “problems” beyond their first-choice attack.
Starc hit back: “I think they have got bigger things to worry about than the depth of Australia’s fast bowlers.”
Australia have been helped to their unassailable 3-0 lead in the series by the pace of Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood – bowlers who have been bowling in excess of 90mph.
England have not managed to take the full 20 wickets in any of the first three Tests.
But Anderson told a private international media outlet: “They’ve had three bowlers who all can bowl 90mph. They’ve stayed fit for all three games. But you look beyond that, they’ve got problems.
“They’ve not got much other than these three that are bowling at the minute. We’ve got some very skilful bowlers, we’ve just come up against a team that are better than us this series.”
Starc was ruled out of the fourth Test on Sunday and, in endorsing right-arm bowler Bird, responded to Anderson.
“I’m really happy for Jackson to get a go,” he said. “I hope he takes five wickets and sticks it up for those daft comments from the Poms.
“They haven’t taken 20 wickets so far in the series and we have and they are having a crack at our depths. I certainly don’t like facing Jacko in the nets. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do to the English batters in this Test.”
Australia opener David Warner also took aim at Anderson, England’s all-time leading wicket-taker with 518.
Anderson took five wickets in the second innings of the second Test in Adelaide, while also discomforting home captain Steven Smith with some on-field chatter.
In the third Test in Perth, Australia racked up 662-9 declared, with Anderson taking four more wickets.
“Conditions must have suited Jimmy in Adelaide,” said Warner. “That’s generally what happens. He talks about us being up all the time when we’re in front, but it’s a different story when he’s firing shots at the captain.
“He went very quiet as soon as he saw the wicket quite flat at the Waca. Sometimes you pick your times when you want to go at people, sometimes you go into your shell like a turtle.
“We’ve probably shut them up a little bit at the moment. Hopefully, this gets them up and going and they fire some barbs at us because I love that. I love when we’re in a contest and I feel like they were quite flat in Perth.”
England all-rounder Chris Woakes said he would not rise to Warner’s challenge.
“He won’t be getting any barbs from me personally, but David can go about his business the way he wants to,” said Woakes.
“Maybe that contest will fire him up and make him score a few more runs, so we’ll probably keep quiet, to be honest.
“The amount of chat that goes on in an Ashes series in ludicrous, to be brutally honest. The thing that is most important is how you perform. We haven’t performed well enough and we’ll try to put that right at the MCG.”
England will definitely be without pace bowler Craig Overton, who has a fractured rib. They could hand a debut to fellow seamer Tom Curran or leg-spinner Mason Crane.
Australia wicketkeeper Tim Paine has arrived in Melbourne and will play, despite his father-in-law suffering a stroke.
Captain Smith is fit despite taking a blow on the hand during net practice.