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Aussies missed a trick with Broad: McGrath

Champion quick believes the old 'bouncer-yorker' combo - and the presence of Mitchell Starc - were sorely missed on day three

Test legend Glenn McGrath said the absence of Mitchell Starc played a key role in Australia's failure to execute a basic fast-bowling strategy during a frustrating day three for the hosts in the fourth Magellan Ashes Test in Melbourne.

As Alastair Cook batted out the day for an epic unbeaten 244, the left-hander was ably supported by some defiant tail-end batting, most notably from Stuart Broad, who made 56 in a 100-run ninth-wicket partnership that effectively took the contest away from the hosts.

But McGrath believes the short-pitched approach adopted by the Australian quicks was missing a vital ingredient that Starc regularly implements to great effect: the yorker.

"They set (Broad) up for the yorker, he was there for the taking and it never came," McGrath told Optus Sports' Stumps.

"They kept going short, short, after a while he got his eye in, he played some good shots, he deserves his 50 but it was there for Australia and (we) didn't get the yorker.

"They bowled one from Josh Hazlewood, just down leg side – if he was across another six inches it would have been all over.

"That's where they missed Mitchell Starc. He's so good at cleaning up the tail, reverse swing, full at the stumps."

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McGrath said the match had hung very much in the balance when Broad walked out to the middle at the fall of the eighth wicket, with the score at 373 and England's lead just 46. But it was the ensuing stand between veterans Cook and Broad that cost them.

"When Tom Curran went out, Australia were in the game," said the former Test quick, who collected 563 wickets in the five-day game.

"They'd bowled well, fielded well – apart from a couple of missed catches from Steve Smith – but from that moment on they let it slip and then they let it slip big time.

"England just took the game away in the afternoon and it was tough watching."

Making matters worse for the Australians were two other factors, namely the disappointing return of in-form seamer Jackson Bird (0-108), and the lifeless nature of the MCG wicket.

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Bupa Support Team head coach Darren Lehmann said a bowler of Starc's calibre was an absence that was inevitably going to be felt, while agreeing with the sentiment of England quick Jimmy Anderson, who questioned the flatness of the pitch following play on day one.

"(Starc is) always difficult to replace, any bowler is," Lehmann said. "We would have liked a little bit more bounce in the track, I think both sides would have; Jimmy said the same thing.

"Mitchell Starc is obviously a big loss but hopefully be alright for Sydney."

2017-18 International Fixtures

Magellan Ashes Series

Australia Test squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine (wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Jackson Bird.

England Test squad: Joe Root (c), James Anderson (vc), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Gary Ballance, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Mason Crane, Tom Curran, Ben Foakes, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ben Stokes, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Chris Woakes.

First Test Australia won by 10 wickets. Scorecard

Second Test Australia won by 120 runs (Day-Night). Scorecard

Third Test Australia won by an innings and 41 runs. Scorecard

Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30. Tickets

Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test). Tickets

Gillette ODI Series v England

First ODI MCG, January 14. Tickets

Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Tickets

Third ODI SCG, January 21. Tickets

Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Tickets

Fifth ODI Perth Stadium, January 28. Tickets

Prime Minister's XI

PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Tickets

Gillette T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series

First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Tickets

Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Tickets

Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Tickets

Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 14

Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16

Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18

Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21