Sydney - Pace spearhead Mitchell Starc is in line to return
to Australia's bowling line-up with second spinner Ashton Agar unlikely to play
in Thursday's final Ashes Test against England.
Captain Steve Smith said Starc was "ready to go"
after bowling this week in the nets after missing the drawn fourth Melbourne
Test with a bruised heel.
"Starcy has pulled up pretty well this morning and he
says he's ready to go. I guess that's a good indication," Smith told
reporters on Wednesday.
Agar's chances of playing in his fifth Test, bowling in spin
tandem with Nathan Lyon, have also been downgraded with extra grass on the
Sydney Cricket Ground pitch.
"The wicket's got a fair bit of grass and looks to be a
pretty good wicket," Smith said.
"I'd say we'll probably opt for just the one spinner.
Nathan's done a terrific job throughout this series and I'd say we'll go down
Australia have already clinched the Ashes with an
unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-Test series ahead of the Sydney finale.
Left-armer Starc is the leading wicket-taker in the series
with 19 despite only playing three Tests and will boost Australia's pace attack
after he missed out in Melbourne, giving way to Jackson Bird who went
Smith, who has dominated the series with three centuries in
his tally of 604 runs in six innings at an astonishing average of 151, has been
troubled this week by a sore back, but said he will play.
"A little bit stiff but nothing I haven't dealt with
before," Smith said.
"I'll have a good hit today, a catch, and I'll be fine
Smith has spent more than 31 hours at the batting crease
against England in this series, becoming Australia's first captain to score 600
or more runs in an Ashes campaign since Don Bradman.
The 604 runs Smith has scored is the fourth-most by a
captain in an Ashes series, with the 810 Bradman scored in 1936-37 the high
Another century in Sydney will see him join Bradman, Herbert
Sutcliffe and Wally Hammond as the only men to score four hundreds in the same Ashes
The Australia skipper averages 63.55 in his 60 Tests which
places him only behind Bradman's pinnacle of 99.94.