AUSTRALIA are sweating on an injury suffered by pace bowler Mitchell Starc as they get ready to go into the third day of the fourth Test at Old Trafford, trailing England by 67 runs.
Starc suffered a concerning shoulder injury late on Day Two after landing awkwardly while attempting a diving stop at mid-on.
The hosts rode on a scintillating century by opener Zak Crawley (189) and half-centuries by all-rounder Moeen Ali (54) and former skipper Joe Root (84) to reach 384/4 in 72 overs.
England responded after bundling out Australia for 317 in their first innings thanks to a 5-62 haul by Chris Woakes with Stuart Broad claiming 2-68.
Australia’s bowling efforts were hampered as Starc, who at times had looked hobbled by a separate left leg issue on Thursday, was in clear pain after the shoulder knock and was forced to leave the field.
Australia are already missing a key bowler in the absence of off-spinner Nathan Lyon but are optimistic that Starc will be available to bowl further in this match.
As Australia struggled in the fourth Test, Starc was one of the few bright spots, first contributing a handy 36 not out with the bat and then picking up half of England’s wickets on the day.
Australia’s assistant coach Daniel Vettori provided a positive update on Starc’s condition as he expected the 33-year-old to be fit to bowl on day three.
“The leg’s good, no issues there,” Vettori said. “I think shoulder, we saw what happened on the field. He’s currently got some ice on it and we’re pretty confident it will be right tomorrow,” Vettori said in the press conference at the end of the day on Thursday.
“He’s one of those guys who doesn’t like to spend too long off the park, so he wanted to get on the field as quickly as possible to see how it was. But he got straight into a hot spot and three balls in a row got to him and he didn’t quite feel comfortable throwing it.
“I haven’t spoken to him but that’s what it looked like [like], We’re all pretty confident he can bounce back tomorrow,” said Vettori.
Australia will now be hoping to contain England’s first innings, which was boosted by a 206-run partnership in just 178 balls, operating at a run-rate of 6.74 the highest for a 200-run stand in games where the number of balls has been recorded.