James Pattinson has been axed from the Australian XI due to a lack of fitness, meaning Jackson Bird will play his first test match in nearly three years against New Zealand tomorrow in Wellington.

It's a major blow to the Australian attack in the sense that the explosive pace of Pattinson was the major x-factor Steve Smith was going to have at his disposal.

Smith declared the wicket one of the greenest he'd seen and New Zealand counterpart Brendon McCullum stated Wellington was certainly a bowl first pitch - making tomorrow's toss potentially crucial.

Pattinson has seriously battled with the shin injury he picked up at the end of the Australian summer and selectors decided he couldn't be trusted to get through five days of a crucial test match where the No.1 ranking will be up for grabs for Smith's side.


The young firebrand was pulled out of his last-start Shield game for Victoria after just two days, however, despite his lack of fitness, he won't be sent home with selectors confident they might be able to get him up for the second test in Christchurch.

Bird has a solid test average of 23.30 to his name from three matches, and was man-of-the-match against Sri Lanka at the SCG back in early 2013.

The 29-year-old has not had a look in since an unsuccessful cameo in the Ashes tour of that same year, but Smith said the Tasmanian would be an effective weapon alongside Josh Hazlewood and Peter Siddle.

"The selectors aren't 100 per cent sure whether (Pattinson) would get through this first test match so that decision was made," said Smith.

"I think Jackson Bird has been bowling extremely well. I saw him for the first time yesterday in the nets and I thought he bowled extremely well. I'm really happy with the XI we've picked and hopefully we can have a successful week.

"He's still quite young and I think he's been a quality bowler. He's always performed really well at Shield level and I think it's great that he gets another opportunity.

"I saw him bowl yesterday and I think he's bowling with quite good pace. He's hitting a good area and he's swinging the ball and swinging it late which is a great attribute to have and if he gets the ball in the right areas in this test match I think he can do a bit of damage.

"He runs in all day, he's quite tall so he hits the bat a bit higher than what you think and he generally hits good areas.

"I think that's really important for us in this test series particularly if the wickets are going to do a little bit. If we're hitting good areas we're going to create a lot of chances and I think he can do that for us."

Australia have stuck with the same top seven that swept the West Indies at the SCG in early January, with Nathan Lyon as the spinner.

New Zealand have elected to go with veteran Doug Bracewell over the in-form Matt Henry in their bowling attack, while Corey Anderson and debutant Henry Nicholls will form a new-look middle-order to the one the Black Caps brought to Australia.

Australia: Joe Burns, David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith (c), Adam Voges, Mitch Marsh, Peter Nevill, Peter Siddle, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Jackson Bird.

New Zealand: Brendon McCullum (c), Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Kane Williamson, Henry Nicholls, Corey Anderson, BJ Watling or Luke Ronchi, Mark Craig, Doug Bracewell, Tim Southee, Matt Henry, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult.