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Rest not on Mitchell Starc's mind with more pink-ball wickets in his sights

The left-armer says he's fit for the final installment of the Ashes having been the only quick to play throughout

Alex Malcolm
Alex Malcolm
Australia quick Mitchell Starc is adamant he doesn't need or want to rest for the fifth Ashes Test in Hobart, especially as it will be a pink-ball Test under lights.
Starc has been Australia's leading fast bowling in the series with 15 wickets and the only one to play all four Tests so far, but he laboured a bit in Sydney on a surface that has traditionally not suited him.
He took 1 for 124 from 34 overs at the SCG and had some trouble with the footmarks on the final day, wincing at times during his final spell with the second new ball as Australia pushed to bowl out England prior to stumps.
However, speaking on Wednesday, Starc said he was fully fit and available to play and was not at all keen to be rested.
"I hope not, it's a pink-ball game," Starc said. "[I'm] feeling good. Obviously, we've had a couple of days now to get ready for the fifth Test match.
"It's purely up to the selectors. I'm not looking for a break. It's the last Test match of an Ashes series at home. It's a pink-ball game too. I'd very much like to play. I guess it's in the hands of the selectors. But I won't be asking for rest."
Australia have a selection squeeze amongst both its batting and bowling groups. The selectors are trying to find a way to bring back Travis Head after he missed the Sydney Test due to Covid-19, while his replacement Usman Khawaja created an irresistible case to be retained thanks to brilliant twin centuries.
There is a similar squeeze with the bowlers. Jhye Richardson is fully fit having missed the Melbourne and Sydney Test matches due to left shin soreness. Scott Boland came into the side in his place and has taken 14 wickets at an insane average of 8.64.
Boland bowled magnificently again in Sydney but did need injections in his ribs to get through the match after he fell heavily on his side while bowling in the first innings. Scans did clear him of any serious damage but Starc was unsure how Boland had pulled up.
"I don't know. I think he went to the gym yesterday." Starc said. "No doubt he'll be at training and bowl today. He's a quiet character but quite a resilient one. So no doubt he'll be looking forward to taking part in this Test as well."
Boland was heralded as a horses for courses selection at the MCG and SCG but if the selectors were to apply the same logic in Hobart then Richardson would have a strong case to return. Richardson took a five-wicket haul in the fourth innings in Adelaide with the pink ball and averages 20.70 in day-night first-class matches, two of which have been Tests. He also took seven wickets in his only Sheffield Shield game at Bellerive Oval earlier this summer.
Boland averages 22.64 in pink-ball games and is the only Australia quick to have played two pink-ball Shield games in Hobart, but he took just three wickets at 60.33 in those two matches. His overall record at Bellerive is a bizarre anomaly. He has 13 wickets at 64 in eight first-class matches there, whereas he averages under 20 at the SCG, the Gabba and Adelaide Oval, and 25 at the MCG.
While the selectors ponder what pace attack to choose, Starc and his captain Pat Cummins are debating who should bat at No. 8 given Starc's recent form with the bat.
Starc has made 151 runs in the series and only been dismissed twice, making valuable contributions in each of the four Tests. He is far more credentialed with the bat from a pure run-scoring perspective than Cummins, averaging 23.60 for his career with 10 half-centuries, while Cummins averages 16.63 with just two fifties.
Cummins moved ahead of Starc in the order after the 2017-18 Ashes on the basis that Cummins occupied more balls than Starc in order to hang around with the specialist batters for longer. Cummins averages 37 balls per innings compared to Starc's 26.
But in the last two series, Starc has averaged 33 balls per innings and 38.66 per dismissal having been not out in six of his 11 innings, while Cummins has averaged 35 balls per innings and 14.75 per dismissal, leading to a conversation about who should bat higher.
"We have sort of started that conversation about where we were both going to bat, we both want to bat No. 9 I think," Starc said. "He's the captain after all. So we'll see how that pans out this week."
Starc said his wife, Australia wicketkeeper-batter Alyssa Healy, has noted his improved numbers with the bat.
"Alyssa has been laughing at me because she's seen I've been hitting a lot more and obviously spending a bit more time in the middle," Starc said. "She's taking the mickey out of me about how much I've been batting at training. Whether that's paying off, I guess, in a way it has been.
"We've got Michael Di Venuto with us at the moment who's just been fantastic. I did a lot of work with him in his first stint as the batting coach. And then since he's come back, working with him and Andrew McDonald just on getting a clear game plan.
"Technically I haven't changed anything, probably since the World Cup in 2019. Doing a little bit of work with Ricky Ponting [in 2019] seemed to have put me in some good positions as well. It's more about just getting some time out in training and then in the middle, but having clear plans on what I'm trying to achieve."

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo