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Promoted Bird pinching himself

Sportal December 19, 2012, 1:10 pm
Jackson Bird

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Tasmania seamer Jackson Bird says making his Test debut for Australia on Boxing Day at the MCG would be 'pretty amazing'.

After Ben Hilfenhaus went down with a side strain injury in the first Test against Sri Lanka in Hobart, the national selectors did not have to look hard to find a worthy replacement.

In an amazing 18 months since moving to Tasmania from New South Wales at the age of 24, Bird has taken the Sheffield Shield competition by storm, taking an incredible 80 wickets in 14 matches at an average of 17.5.

And his reward came on Tuesday afternoon when he was named in a 13-man squad for the second Test against Sri Lanka, alongside fellow quicks Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson.

"I am very excited to get the call-up," Bird told reporters at the MCG on Wednesday.

"I have been in communication with the selectors for the last couple of Test matches. Unfortunately when Ben went down, I thought I might be a chance. Luckily enough, I got the call.

"I didn't have a very good sleep last night (after the squad was named). The phone was ringing non-stop but 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."

With Australia likely to play three fast bowlers and spinner Nathan Lyon against Sri Lanka and the places of Siddle and Starc seemingly secure, it appears that Bird and Johnson will battle it out for the final spot in the team.

Bird's superb record at the MCG is sure to come into consideration by the selectors. The 26-year-old snared 10-96 at the ground against Victoria on his Shield debut in November last year.

And he backed it up with figures of 4-73 against the Bushrangers in October in a weather-affected match.

Johnson's figures at the MCG are not as impressive. In 15 matches for Australia at the venue (four Tests, nine one-day internationals and two Twenty20 internationals), he has taken 26 wickets at an average of 32.69.

"I definitely do enjoy playing here," Bird said.

"The MCG is a great place to play. There's always a little bit in the wicket for the fast bowlers. Generally, if you put the ball in the right areas enough and you hit the wicket and present the seam, you will get enough out of it.

"It's a good contest between bat and ball. I have really enjoyed it the last couple of times I have played here.

"I certainly don't bowl as fast as Mitchell Johnson does. Mitch is a great bowler and whoever gets the nod will hopefully do a good job.

"It depends what the selectors want to do in terms of playing two left-armers (Starc and Johnson) or one left-armer. I guess it will be the best 11 players on the day and if I get that chance, hopefully I can repay the faith that the selectors have shown in me."

Bird described himself as a 'pretty laid back person' and says he won't be overawed by the prospect of playing in front of a big crowd, while he credited a recent surge in form - capped off by an eight-wicket haul against Western Australia - to returning to a more patient style of bowling.

Bird, whose outstanding form in Sydney grade cricket saw him take 115 wickets at an average of 24 for Bankstown from 2007 to 2010 and then 54 scalps at 18 for Manly-Warringah in the 2010-11 season, also added that his move to Tasmania had been vindicated by his selection in the Australian squad.

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