Ashes: Australia bowler Mitchell Starc 'confident' of playing final Test

Mitchell Starc
Mitchell Starc has taken 19 wickets so far in the Ashes series but missed the fourth Test through injury
Fifth Ashes Test - Australia v England
Venue: Sydney Cricket Ground Date: Thursday, 4 January (Wednesday, 3 January at 23:30 GMT)
Coverage: Ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, Radio 4 LW, online, tablets, mobiles and BBC Sport app. Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website.

Australia fast bowler Mitchell Starc is confident of playing in the final Ashes Test, says team-mate Pat Cummins.

Left-armer Starc, the leading wicket-taker in the series, missed the drawn fourth Test with a bruised heel.

The 27-year-old bowled in the nets at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Tuesday. The fifth Test starts there at 23:30 GMT on Wednesday.

"He was running around without limping and it looked like he was bowling quickly," said fellow paceman Cummins.

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"He's pretty confident that he's going to play. Now it's about seeing how it recovers."

Australia had already secured the Ashes by winning the first three Tests, before Starc missed out in Melbourne.

With the urn already won, Australia may choose not to risk Starc in Sydney, with a four-Test tour of South Africa to come in March.

"If he didn't think he could get through the match, then he wouldn't play," added Cummins. "He's played a lot of cricket now and he knows what he can get through."

In Starc's absence, and on a slow, lifeless pitch in Melbourne, England posted 491 - their highest total of the series.

His replacement, Jackson Bird, returned figures of 0-108.

"No disrespect to Jackson, he's got a fine record himself but compared to Starc it made quite a difference," said England opener Mark Stoneman.

"Starc bowls 10-15kph quicker, with a different angle. He swings the new ball and is good with reverse swing as well.

"The pitch was on the slow side, but Starc's absence made it harder for them to rotate the attack. At the key moments, they had to bowl Cummins and Josh Hazlewood in tandem, and after that there was a release in pressure."

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