Cricket: Bird to debut for Australia

Jackson Bird of Australia bowls during an Australian training session. Photo / Getty Images
Jackson Bird of Australia bowls during an Australian training session. Photo / Getty Images

Tasmania-based fast bowler Jackson Bird will make his debut for Australia in the second Test against Sri Lanka at the MCG starting on Boxing Day.

Bird, 26, is the leading Sheffield Shield wicket-taker over the past two seasons.

The lanky right-armer has taken 87 wickets at 19.72 across 17 matches during that time.

Bird comes in for left-armer Mitchell Starc who has been rested as part of Cricket Australia's rotation policy.

West Australian quick Mitchell Johnson has been named to replace the injured Ben Hilfenhaus.

Michael Clarke has been named to captain the team despite being in doubt with a hamstring injury.

A delighted Bird said he got the call from Australia coach Mickey Arthur on Sunday.

"I'm going to open the bowling so I'm looking forward to that,'' Bird said.

"I feel like I'm ready for Test cricket. Hopefully I can repay the faith of Mickey and the selectors.''

Arthur says Bird is in great form.

"He brings line and length,'' Arthur said.

"He brings pressure. He brings nice pace.''

Arthur said Starc had taken the news well although he was clearly very disappointed.

"I wouldn't expect anything other than that,'' Arthur said.

"Mitch is our one quick bowler who stars in all three forms of the game.

"We've got such a lot of important cricket coming up and Mitch will be integral to that.

"It's tough on Mitch. Hopefully he misses one Test to make sure that we don't have another injury.

"He's ready to go for the one-dayers and the tour of India and the Ashes.''

Starc is likely to return for the third Test in Sydney on January 3.

Arthur also said Clarke would be given until Wednesday morning to prove his fitness following last week's injury.

"He's clearly improving. He went far better today than he did yesterday,'' Arthur said.

"If I was a betting man I'd bet on Michael Clarke leading the team out on Boxing Day.

"It will be a consultation between Michael and Alex (team physio Alex Kountouris).''

Team: Michael Clarke (capt), David Warner, Ed Cowan, Phil Hughes, Shane Watson (vc), Mike Hussey, Matt Wade, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Lyon, Jackson Bird

- AAP

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