Starc ruled out of Melbourne Test as Bird steps in

In-form Mitchell Starc will miss the Boxing Day Test between Australia and England, handing Jackson Bird the chance to shine.

The leading wicket-taker in the 2017-18 Ashes won't play the Boxing Day Test.   -  Getty Images

Australia fast bowler Mitchell Starc has been ruled out of the fourth Ashes Test against England with a heel injury, with Jackson Bird named as his replacement.

Starc, the series' leading wicket-tacker with 19, had been doubtful after struggling with a bruised heel throughout the series and spending recent days on crutches.

Read: Bird ready to replace injured Starc

Cricket Australia confirmed before Sunday's team practice session that he would miss the match in Melbourne - which starts on Tuesday - with fellow quick Bird coming in.

It will be Bird's first Test appearance in exactly a year, having won the most recent of his eight caps in the 2016 Boxing Day meeting with Pakistan, where he took four wickets.

Starc, 27, will be missed after his fine form helped Australia regain the Ashes, his haul of wickets coming at an impressive average of 21.05.

One positive for Australia was wicketkeeper Tim Paine joining up with his team-mates at training, having had a spell away from the set-up for personal reasons.

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