Ashes 2017/18: Mitchell Starc back, Steve Smith absent for Australia before fifth Test

Starc missed the drawn fourth test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground because of a bruised right heel but is hoping to return for the New Year's Test.

Published: 02nd January 2018 08:52 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd January 2018 08:52 AM   |  A+A-

Australia's Mitchell Starc, second right, celebrates bowling out England's James Vince, right, during the fourth day of their Ashes cricket test match in Perth. (AP)

By Associated Press

SYDNEY: Injured fast bowler Mitchell Starc worked out in the nets but captain Steve Smith didn't train on Tuesday because of a sore back as Australia prepared for the fifth Ashes test against England.

Starc missed the drawn fourth test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground because of a bruised right heel but is hoping to return for the Sydney Cricket Ground finale beginning Thursday.

Australia regained the Ashes with victories in the first three tests of the five-match series.

Left-armer Starc took part in fielding drills then spent more than half an hour bowling off his full run-up.

Smith hoped to train on Wednesday.

Starc was replaced in Melbourne by Jackson Bird, who failed to take a wicket in a pace combination with Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins.

"I haven't spoken to him but he looked like he was bowling quick, running around and not limping," Cummins said of Starc's return. "He's really keen to play and pretty confident he can play. They'll see how he recovers ... the last couple of weeks it's certainly got a lot better."

Starc could be rested from the final match to ensure he is fit for a four-test tour of South Africa that begins March 1 in Durban.

Ashton Agar has been added to Australia's squad for the fifth test and could join Nathan Lyon in the starting XI at the spin-friendly SCG.

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