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Star bowler backs skipper’s decision not to enforce follow-on

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Mitchell Starc has high hopes that Steve Smith’s call not to enforce the follow-on will be a winning one.

After bowling England out for 227 in response to the hosts’ 442-8 declared in the maiden Ashes day-night Test, the tourists’ attack finally found swinging conditions to their liking under the lights and reduced Australia to 53-4 at the close of play.

Though England ended the day buoyant, they remain 268 runs adrift of Australia, and will face a monumental batting challenge to avoid going 2-0 down in the series.

Joe Root’s decision to bowl first at the toss was highly scrutinised, but Smith’s refusal to go after an innings victory was similarly pored over, although Starc revealed the team were happy to follow their captain.

“It’s purely up to the skipper and there was no conversations with the bowlers,” Starc told BT Sport.

“There’s pros and cons to both sides of the story: Our bowlers get a bit of a rest and can come out firing in the second innings but it’s been tough work in the end and England bowled pretty well.

“It’s up to Smithy, he’s the captain and leads that way.

“As I said, a little bit of extra rest might allow us to bowl a bit quicker and take some big wickets in the day and into the night session and put England under the pump big time.”

Starc added: “We’ve got a big lead ahead of us so, it’s not ideal to go to stumps four down, but at the same time we’re 260 ahead.

“England only faced 10 overs under lights and they’ve got two big night sessions ahead of them if they want to save this Test match, so I’d still rather be in our changing room compared to theirs.”