Australian cricketer Mitchell Starc.
Australian cricketer Mitchell Starc. Paul Kane / Getty Images

Surgery means Starc's out of final Test match against India

AUSTRALIA will be without left-arm paceman Mitchell Starc, and possibly captain Michael Clarke, in its bid to salvage some pride and stop India from completing a 4-0 clean sweep of the Test series in Delhi on Friday.

Starc headed home yesterday for surgery to remove bone spurs on his right ankle, while Clarke is struggling with a back injury which troubled him in the six-wicket defeat in the third Test.

The 23-year-old Starc, who scored a career-best 99 in Australia's first innings in the third Test, but has struggled with the ball in the series, taking two wickets at an average of 100, is the second quick to leave India fter Jackson Bird returned home for scans which later revealed stress fractures of the lower back.

Australian coach Mickey Arthur said it was timely for Starc to go under the knife ahead of the battle to regain the Ashes later this year.

"We were aware that Mitch would need surgery at some point in the future to have the spurs removed," Arthur said.

"He could have continued playing, but we want to take a proactive approach in managing Mitch to have him fit for the Ashes series in England."

One of the four players suspended for the third Test for not doing their homework, James Pattinson, should replace Starc, while another player stood down for the game, vice-captain Shane Watson, is in line to take over the captaincy duties should Clarke lose his fitness battle.

Clarke has not missed a game through injury in his 92-Test career and is keen to keep that record intact.
"It's pretty sore," he said of his back.

"Fortunately I have got a few days before the next Test and I will spend as much time with Alex (team physiotherapist Alex Kountouris) as I can to get it right.

"It is the same problem I have had since I was 17 and I have been trying to manage it throughout my career and the next few days will be no different to normal when my back goes on me like this.

"It's about plenty of treatment, listening to the experts and doing everything I can to get it right for the next Test match.

"I guess I am always pretty positive, touch wood I haven't missed a Test match due to injury so far in my career and I wouldn't like this to be my first one.

"(But) if I can't perform at my best ... if I feel I am going to let the team down, I won't be taking the field."

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