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Jackson Bird to debut for Australia on Boxing Day!

648   //    23 Dec 2012, 17:06 IST

Australia has been facing quandaries in terms of their depleting fast-bowling resources due to injuries – the latest casualty being Ben Hilfenhaus, who has been ruled out of the Boxing Day Test against Sri Lanka. Jackson Bird was named as a replacement for Hilfenhaus, but he was expected to be the drinks carrier for the game. However, given the Australian rotation-policy that is being followed to reduce the workload on their bowlers to prevent injuries, Mitchell Starc is most likely to be rested for the Boxing Day Test and make his way back for his home Test in Sydney – which means Jackson Bird is on course to make his debut on his hunting ground.

Jackson Bird is the newest fast-bowling prodigy in Australian cricket whose rise from a grade player to a baggy green probable has surprised many around Australia. Bird moved from NSW to Tasmania two years ago because of the lack of opportunities in the NSW side, given the abundance in the fast bowling department with the likes of Pat Cummins, Trent Copeland, Mitchell Starc, Doug Bollinger and Josh Hazlewood blocking his path to state selection. Like many others from NSW, he has moved states in order to seek the right opportunities to elevate his career, like Phil Hughes, Ed Cowan, Usman Khawaja and Nathan Lyon. Akin to the others, his move to Tasmania only has done him a world of good. Bird – if picked in the playing XI – will become the seventh bowler to be used this summer by Australia.

Following his relocation, Bird instantly made an impact for Tasmania last season when he was named Sheffield Shield player of the year, having claimed 53 wickets in 8 matches at an average of only 16. This season, he has been the leading wicket-taker with 27 wickets at an average of 21.  Bird however, copped some criticism that he thrived only on a seamer-friendly wicket like the one in Hobart, but he proved his case when his statistics showed that out of his 87 wickets in 17 first-class games, 38 of those have come out of Tasmania at an average of 19. He also notched up a 10-wicket haul last year at the MCG.

“The MCG is a great place to play, there’s always a little bit in the wicket for the fast bowlers and I do enjoy playing here. I’ve been in communication with the selectors for the last couple of Test matches and unfortunately when Ben went down I thought I might be a chance. It would be a pretty amazing dream to debut on Boxing Day at the MCG so I’m looking forward to it if I get the chance,” the 26-year-old said. “I’m a pretty laid back sort of person so I’ll keep it simple. People get into trouble when they complicate things. I’ve just got to keep doing what I’ve been doing the last 18 months and hopefully that’s good enough to get me a few wickets in the Test match.”

With regards to his move from NSW to Tasmania and its outcome, he says, “I moved down there (to Hobart) in the first place just to get an opportunity. I always thought I was good enough to play first-class cricket, but in NSW there’s a lot of good fast bowlers around. Pat Cummins and Trent Copeland were making their debuts for NSW and Australia. I was 24 by that time and once Tassie offered me a contract I thought it might be my last chance to play first class cricket so I jumped at the opportunity.

“It’s been a pretty interesting 18 months in terms of cricket so it’s a good reward me and my family who have sacrificed a lot over the last five years.”

A debut on Boxing Day would be a dream come true for any Australian cricketer. What would be more interesting would be whether his rapid elevation from first-class to the baggy green would pay off.

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