The Ashes: Absent Mitchell Starc fires verbal volley at misfiring England

MITCHELL STARC'S bruised heel has put him out of action for the Boxing Day Test, but he is still able to launch verbal '˜bouncers' at England.

INJURED: Australia's Mitchell Starc during a nets session at the MCG. Picture: Jason O'Brien/PA

Starc had opposite number James Anderson in his sights as he reflected on his own injury-enforced absence and then backed replacement Jackson Bird to make England’s all-time leading wicket-taker eat his words.

Anderson’s observations - that Australia’s pace resources lack depth - came with England 3-0 down and already beaten in this Ashes series, thanks in part to a home attack led by Starc.

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Cricket Australia has confirmed the left-armer will sit out the showpiece fourth Test as the hosts bid to close on a 5-0 whitewash.

Australia's Josh Hazelwood , Pat Cummins and Jackson Bird during a nets session at the MCG. Picture: Jason O'Brien/PA

Starc then said: “It’d be pretty selfish of me to go into a game not 100 per cent - especially when Jacko is waiting there and bowling really well.

“I’m really happy for him to get a go, and I hope he takes ‘five-for’ and sticks it up this daft comment from the Poms.”

Starc and combative opening batsman David Warner were the men doing the talking for Australia on Christmas Eve, and predictably neither held back.

The series’ leading wicket-taker added: “I certainly don’t like facing Jacko in the nets, so I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do to the English batters.

Australia's Josh Hazelwood , Pat Cummins and Jackson Bird during a nets session at the MCG. Picture: Jason O'Brien/PA

“He still bowls quick enough - pretty sure he still bowls quicker than the Poms. They haven’t taken 20 wickets yet in the series, and we have - then they’re having a crack at our depth.

“I think they’ve got bigger things to worry about than the depth of Australian fast bowlers.”

There will be no let-up in the barrage of short balls for England’s batsmen from one to 11.

Starc said: “I’m pretty sure our guys have copped enough bouncers, and we haven’t whinged about it yet - as far as I know, our guys will keep bouncing their batters.

“The plan to the tail has always been the same, be very aggressive, bowl fast, get up in their noses and have them jumping around.

“We’re 3-0 up ... and I hope by the end of the week, it’s 4-0 ... and they won’t have too much else to say.”

Warner soon took guard on the same subject.

“We don’t dwell on what (Anderson) says at all. He can fire those barbs ... but our depth is fantastic.

“I just think England aren’t used to producing fast bowlers.”

Reminded that Anderson had a few things to say to home captain Steve Smith while England were briefly competitive in the second Test at Adelaide, Warner added: “Conditions must have suited Jimmy there.

“He talks about us being up all the time when we’re in front - but (it was) a different story there when he was firing shots at the captain apparently.

“Then he went very quiet as soon as he saw the wicket went quite flat at the WACA.

“We’ve probably shut them up a little bit at the moment ... (but) I love it when we’re in a bit of a contest, and I feel like they were quite flat in WA.”

Smith took a blow to his right hand in bizarre circumstances while waiting to bat in the MCG nets on Sunday when a shot from Cameron Bancroft ricocheted out of his lane.

Warner confirmed the ball struck Smith on a part of his hand already sore from a winter of slip-catching, but insists there is no serious damage.

“He just said before ‘What are the chances of me getting hit on the sore hand?’

“But he’s fine ... there’s absolutely nothing wrong with him.”