Curran to make test debut for England; Smith has sore hand

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) England paceman Tom Curran will make his test debut at the Melbourne Cricket Ground against Australia on Tuesday, replacing the injured Craig Overton, who has a fractured rib.

England skipper Joe Root says South-African born Curran is a ”feisty character” with an impressive work ethic.

Curran, an uncapped right-arm bowler, was only added to England’s Ashes squad when Steve Finn was ruled out at the start of the tour due to injury.

The 22-year-old Curran played a one-day international and three Twenty20 matches for England earlier this year.

”Sometimes as a captain you have to go with your gut,” Root said Monday. ”It was a close call. He’s obviously worked extremely hard, as has everyone else. You know you’re always going to get absolutely everything out of him.”

Australia regained the Ashes with a win in the third test at Perth.

Meanwhile, a sore hand may force Australia captain Steve Smith to tweak his approach during the fourth test.

Smith was on the wrong end of a freakish injury scare on Sunday when a ball driven by Cameron Bancroft burst over the nets and struck him on the right hand. Smith, waiting to bat at the time, wasn’t wearing gloves.

Smith, who boasts a test average of 127.6 at the MCG after posting centuries in the past three Boxing Day games, had a short hit on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Smith admitted he still wasn’t 100 percent.

”It was a little bit sore today playing a few different shots,” he said Monday. ”But I’ll be able to deal with it and I’ll get on with it. Maybe I’ll just have to use a bit more of my top hand throughout the game, a bit less wristy.”

Australia has replaced left-handed fast bowler Mitchell Starc, who has a bruised right foot, with Jackson Bird.

Lineups:

Australia: David Warner, Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith (captain), Shaun Marsh, Mitch Marsh, Tim Paine, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Jackson Bird.

England: Alastair Cook, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Joe Root (captain), Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Tom Curran, Stuart Broad, James Anderson.