Bird to replace injured Starc in Boxing Day Test

Smith has dismissed Atherton. Image Getty

"But you look beyond that, they've got problems". He's always in the contest. Some heal quicker than others, others tend to hang around for a period of time, so that's probably played a little bit on the conversations over the last couple of days, making sure that it isn't something that keeps me out for 10 more games, it's more a one fixture sort of thing.

Curran's elevation ahead of Wood was something of a surprise given England's pace bowlers have struggled in Australia, with stalwarts James Anderson and Stuart Broad both struggling to get any movement through the air or off the pitch, while their entire attack has been lacking in pace.

Root, who has been in the top job for less than a year, is said to have remained "cheeky" and "chirpy" among his teammates.

"We have to put in better performances - we realise that".

"They have been completely blown away".

"The fact that (he's) not necessarily 100 per cent fit, not played a huge amount of Cricket, (it) might have been a little bit of a risk going into this game".

There was also a further rejoinder from Starc about England's suggestions, made first to the umpires in Brisbane and this week raised again in a column by the former captain Mike Atherton, that the umpires needed to consider the number of short-pitched deliveries they were allowing the Australian pacemen to bowl at the touring tail, relative to the game's laws about risky bowling.

I have spoken to most of the boys after we won the Ashes back in Perth and, unsurprisingly, they are up and about.

"I have actually chatted to the umpires about it during this series and they say at test level you should be able to handle short balls. We're 3-0 up. and I hope by the end of the week, it's 4-0". 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".

Starc was described on Thursday by fellow Australia pace bowler Pat Cummins as having only a "50/50" chance of being involved and he will be a substantial loss to Steve Smith's side.

Only once since the turn of the century has either city staged an Ashes Test with the series still at stake, and even then, in 2010, the Melbourne Test was effectively done after the first day, with thousands of locals streaming out of the ground before the close, such was the dominance of Andrew Strauss's team.

"So without doubt in these next two games it's a case of, in our eyes, a two-Test series now and that's exactly how we've got to look at it".

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