Australia are contemplating taking Mitchell Starc out of the firing line as their gruelling tour of England continues to take a physical toll.
Former Yorkshire player Starc is one of only three Australians who played in the Ashes still standing and – according to coach Darren Lehmann – he is struggling to stay at his best.
Mitchell Johnson and Josh Hazlewood were rested from the white-ball section of the tour, while David Warner, Shane Watson and Nathan Coulter-Nile have all departed with injuries.
That has affected plans to send the world’s No 1 ODI bowler home early, but Starc may not feature in Thursday’s fourth match at his former home ground of Headingley Carnegie.
“I know there’s been a lot of talk about someone like Mitchell Starc and his workload over the past 12 months has been exceptional. We’ll see whether he plays or not tomorrow,” said Lehmann, another former Yorkshire overseas star.
“We wanted to try and get him home if we could – maybe play a couple of games and then bring in a younger bowler again.
“It hasn’t played out that way so we’ll just sum it up from here.
“We’re all tired, but that’s international cricket, that’s what you do when you’re representing your country.
“You want to try and play the best brand of cricket you can to try and win games but scheduling is always tough.”
Lehmann identified spin bowling as key to England’s 93-run victory at Emirates Old Trafford, a result that took the series score to 2-1 in the tourists’ favour.
Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali turned in combined figures of 20 overs, taking 5-73 while the Australian pair of Ashton Agar and Glenn Maxwell sent down 19 overs, taking 3-101.
Agar, who memorably scored 98 on his Test debut two years ago, was making his bow in the 50-over format and has been backed to settle into the game.
“We’ve just got to play spin a lot better, as we’ve spoken about many times before. They outbowled us in that department at Old Trafford.”