Ashes 2019: Mitchell Starc closer to Old Trafford inclusion, but at whose expense?
Despite 211 Test wickets, Mitchell Starc cannot get an Ashes game. © CA

Having been deemed surplus to Australia‘s requirements for the first three Ashes Test matches, left-arm quick Mitchell Starc appears the closest to getting a match at Old Trafford this week after taking seven wickets in the tour match victory over Derbyshire.

The question is: who would need to make way to see Starc included in Australia’s XI for the fourth Ashes Test?

Starc bowled 26.4 overs at Derby for returns of 7/85. He took three wickets in Derbyshire’s first innings and then four in their second as Australia won the the three-day game by an innings.

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Touring Australia selector Trevor Hohns noted Starc’s pace, accuracy and swing movement but was non-committal on whether he would feature at Old Trafford from Wednesday.

“From the start of the tour it was made very clear what was expected of our bowlers and where we wanted them to bowl,” Hohns said. “Mitchell has taken all that on board and he has worked very, very hard to improve his game in that area. We all know he is an aggressor, so we can’t expect him to change the way he bowls too much.”

According to former Australia fast bowler turned high performance coach for Cricket Australia, Ryan Harris, if the tourists want to play Starc they will have to look at drafting in Mitchell Marsh as an allrounder.

(READ: Hazlewood confident of performing well in remaining two matches)

Former Australia captain Mark Taylor had similar views.

“The reason (for Marsh playing) is they’re concerned about Starc because he’s either none or a gutful,” he said on Nine’s Sports Sunday. “He either tends to be all over a batting side and taking wickets or he’s going for five or six runs per over. If he goes for 5 or 6 an over they’ve only got [Pat] Cummins, [Josh] Hazlewood and [Nathan] Lyon left, with no allrounder, so that’s where Mitch Marsh comes into it.

“If they play him at six and they leave [Matthew] Wade or [Travis] Head out, they’ve got another bowling option. I don’t think he’ll play, but that’s the reason there’s talk about Mitchell, because they’ll feel they need an allrounder to bowl extra overs in case Starc goes the journey.”

Since his second-innings hundred at Edgbaston, Wade has made 6, 1, 0 and 33 in the Ashes. He made 74 in the tour match against Derbyshire.

Harris emphasised with Wade, but said he was the man to make way should Marsh play at Old Trafford.

“He has done a lot of work over the last 12 months on his batting – he’s ready to go, put it that way,” he said. “It would be Matty Wade to miss out and that’d be pretty stiff, but for team balance, they may have to go that way.”