December 25, 2017 12:14:09 pm
Steve Smith confirmed Australia will be making one change for the fourth Ashes Test with seamer Jackson Bird replacing fellow quick Mitchell Starc. Left-arm seamer Starc has been ruled out with a foot injury. The fourth Ashes Test begins on December 26 at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) with Australia having already regained the urn with a comprehensive win in Perth.
Starc is nursing a bruised heel and said on Sunday that he felt he might be able to play through it, the hosts have opted against risking the pace spearhead – especially with the series already in the bag and a trip to South Africa to follow in 2018.
Bird comes into the Australian side for his ninth Test since making his debut in 2012 and will be making his first appearance since last year’s Boxing Day Test against Pakistan. The swap is the only change for Australia from the side that beat England by an innings and 41 runs in the third Test at WACA, Perth.
Meanwhile, Peter Handscomb has been released from the squad to play for Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash League game against Perth Scorchers at the WACA on Boxing Day. He will return to the squad on day three of the Test. Bird, the leading wicket taker in Sheffield Shield, has 25 scalps to his name at an average of 16.56 from four games for Tasmania. Smith backed the seamer and said he deserved the chance.
“He’s worked very hard. He hasn’t played since this game last year and he’s been on a few tours,” Smith said on Christmas day. “Guys have come in and jumped him. When he goes back to Shield cricket, he’s dominated. He’s bowled exceptionally well in the first couple of Shield games that he played (this season). He bowls well out here (at the MCG). He deserves a crack and hopefully he goes really well.”
Bird, while speaking to reporters on Saturday, said he was itching to go and make a mark having been overlooked in the two overseas tours – against Bangladesh and India. “I felt like the ball came out really nicely in those couple of weeks that I was away,” Bird said. “I haven’t played a Test match since this game last year, so I’ve been ready to go for about 12 months now.”
Australia XI: Steve Smith (c), David Warner, Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Mitch Marsh, Tim Paine, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Jackson Bird.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.