McGrath: 'Australia shouldn't risk Starc ahead of South Africa tour'

Can Mason Crane save England

Australia paceman Mitchell Starc appears set to return from injury in the fifth Ashes Test against England as the hosts opt for one spinner. The off-spinner, who has played 48 Tests, has just taken three wickets in four Tests.

The left-armer remains the leading wicket-taker in the ongoing Ashes, however - and after spending several days after the Perth Test on crutches last month, he was back bowling at full speed again in the Sydney nets yesterday.

England lost the first three Tests to surrender the Ashes at the earliest possible opportunity.

Australia team-mate Pat Cummins, however, is confident Starc will return to the bowling attack at the SCG on Thursday.

"It would mean a lot to me to give a fairer account of how we've gone about this trip".

"Starcy's pulled up pretty well this morning and said he's ready to go", Smith told reporters at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).

Joe Root still has faith in Stuart Broad
Joe Root still has faith in Stuart Broad

"It's something we do really well in Australia and I put that down to the coaches and the medical staff", Cummins said this week.

Australia captain Steve Smith admitted his side mentioned the "headbutt" to Bairstow during the first Test in Brisbane in an attempt to unsettle the England wicketkeeper.

151 - It's hard not to keep mentioning him, but if you're picking a player of the series, right now it is this man. Smith is averaging 151 in this series and has been dismissed on only four of six occasions. It's very easy to get that determination and drive to see where you need to get back to. He has struggled a bit on this trip but, technically I don't think there's a huge amount he needs to work on.

"He's a fine player and I'm sure he'll play a lot more cricket for England". Helped significantly by the pace-friendly environment in which young fast bowlers are raised, Australia's approach is nonetheless different to many other nations, emphasising strength and conditioning training to enhance speed, maintain it and also ensure a bowler's upper register can be reached within a few balls of starting a spell.

"If we do things in the right way and if certain things fall into place for us, we've got a really good chance next time round".

For his part, McGrath said he was not in favour of allowing fielding teams more latitude in terms of deliberate bounce throws to encourage greater reverse swing, a practice both teams were warned about by the umpires at the MCG. Not sure how I feel about that. If you walk out there and expect you're going to get runs the game can bite you pretty quickly.

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