Mitchell Starc’s Boxing Day Test curse has continued after the left-arm pace ace was ruled out due to injury on Sunday.
Tasmania’s Jackson Bird comes into the XI having not worn the baggy green since playing here 12 months ago against Pakistan.
Starc had been at long odds to line up in Melbourne after suffering abruised heelduring ‘sseries-clinching victory in Perth.
With the urn already won and an important tour to come in South Africa, selectors opted against risking the prized quick, who is the leading wicket-taker this series.
Paceman Mitchell Starc (left) talks with Darren Lehmann and selector Greg Chappell at the MCG. Photo: AAP
Starc, who made his Test debut in 2011, has played only once on Boxing Day, which is one of the biggest days on ‘s cricket calendar.
He wasshattered in 2012after being controversially left out due to Cricket ‘s rotation policy. The episode remains a sore point forStarc. Bird also came into the side on that occasion.
“It’s still a bit off limits those jokes around Boxing Day, he’s been unlucky,” fellow paceman Josh Hazlewood said on Sunday.
Starc’s misfortune is good news for Bird, who has endured a frustrating run of near misses over the past 18 months.
Bird has featured in only three of 18 Tests since playing a pivotal part in regaining the No.1 ranking in New Zealand early last year.
He was unlucky to be overlooked for Joe Mennie in Hobart last season when then selection chairman Rod Marsh queried the No.11’s performances with the bat.
Bird was part of the touring party in India and Bangladesh this year but each time an opportunity arose he was leapfrogged by a player not in the original squad.
The 31-year-old Sydney-born paceman has taken 34 wickets at 27.47 in eight Tests.