Mitchell Starc replaces Mitchell Johnson as Australia prepare for India Test

Sport360 staff 06:54 05/01/2015
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Mitchell Starc will be hoping to prove his worth when he takes to the field in the final test at the SCG tomorrow.

Mitchell Starc's up-and-down Test career has continued, with the left-arm quick called in to the Australian XI for the fourth and final Test against India at the SCG.

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The 24-year-old takes the place of Mitchell Johnson, who was ruled out of the clash, starting tomorrow, with a hamstring strain.

And captain Steve Smith is of the opinion that Starc, who has come under fire recently for his lack of consistency, will be ready to fire when the first ball of the test is bowled.

"I'm sure he's looking forward to playing out here in front of his home crowd at the SCG," Australia captain Steve Smith told reporters of Starc.

Starc's return is the only change to the side that drew the third Test in Melbourne with all-rounder Shane Watson retaining his place despite a stomach complaint forcing him from training early on Sunday.

Starc was drafted into the side for the second Test in Brisbane in the absence of Ryan Harris but a wayward performance and match figures of 2 for 110 at the Gabba saw him dropped for the third drawn Test at the MCG.

Mitchell Starc has been much more consistent with the white ball for the Sydney Sixers in the Big Bash League.

The 24-year-old returned to Twenty20 cricket and performed brilliantly for the Sydney Sixers in the Big Bash League and Smith said he was happy to see Starc bowling "exceptionally quick".

"The way we've seen Mitch go back into the Big Bash, it looks like he's bowled exceptionally quick.

"We're looking for hopefully more of the same he's produced in the Big Bash this week," Smith said.

"If he sustains that for long periods and if he keeps up that type of pace and sustain it throughout the day he's going to be an amazing bowler."

Starc beat out veteran quick Peter Siddle, who was axed after the first Test in Adelaide, for the third seamer spot at the SCG.

This continues the in-and-out pattern of Starc's Test career.

He narrowly edged Queensland's Ben Cutting for a spot in the Test team to face New Zealand in December 2011 but has only played 14 of a possible 37 Tests in three years, picking up 45 wickets at an unimpressive average of 36.22.

He has never strung together a run of more than two consecutive Tests as he has regularly been considered fourth or fifth in the queue behind Johnson, Harris, Siddle, Josh Hazlewood and, earlier in his career, James Pattinson and Ben Hilfenhaus.

Meanwhile, Smith has admitted that Mitchell Johnson would 'probably' have played if the test series had not already been decided.

"He's got a little hamstring strain. I think there's no secret there's a pretty big summer coming up," Smith said.

"We want him to be fresh for the one-dayers and World Cup coming up.

"We don't want to risk him."

 Australia XI: Steve Smith (capt), Chris Rogers, David Warner, Shane Watson, Shaun Marsh, Joe Burns, Brad Haddin, Mitchell Starc, Ryan Harris, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.

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