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Jackson Bird hopeful of an Australian Test comeback during South African tour

Jackson has been Big Bash League's most successful bowler this season © Getty Images
Jackson Bird has been Big Bash League’s most successful bowler this season © Getty Images

Jan 13, 2014

Australian speedstar Jackson Bird, recovering from a serious back injury, has been the in-form bowler of this season’s Big Bash League. Trying to make a comeback into the Australian Test team, Bird will continue his push towards the tour of South Africa in Tuesday’s one-day match with England at Manuka Oval.

The 27-year-old has been touted as a contender for the three-Test series having regained his trademark accuracy and picked up a yard in pace for the Melbourne Stars.

His 12 wickets are the best in the tournament, while his economy rate of 6.46 shows that Bird has been difficult to get away.

While it’s difficult to convert Twenty20 form into the red-ball format, Bird has proved in the three Test matches he has played already that he can be a force to reckon with on the international stage.

Thirteen wickets at an average of 23 barely scratch the surface of a bowler who consistently hits a nagging line and length, drawing comparisons with the great Glenn McGrath.

Bird, though, isn’t getting ahead of himself. He’s aware he has fallen back down a few rungs of the ultra-competitive Australian bowling chart since suffering a recurrence of stress fractures in his back during the Ashes series in England last year.

”I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t aiming to go on that [South African] tour, but in saying that I can’t control what goes on in selection,” Bird told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“All I can do is keep performing well for the Stars and hopefully perform well against England on Tuesday and put my name in front of the selectors again.

”It’s not the end of the world if I don’t go on the South African tour and I still have half a season left with Tasmania in the Sheffield Shield.”

Patience has been his mantra since, at age 24, he realised he could not get a first-class game in New South Wales. So he moved to Tasmania, and the results have been startling.

Bird claimed a stunning 53 wickets at an average of 16 in his debut shield season in 2011-12 to finish as the competition’s leading wicket-taker.

Selection in an Australian A team to tour England in 2012 was followed by a Test debut against Sri Lanka in the Boxing Day Test that same year.

Just when he got another chance in the fourth Ashes Test in Durham, the back injury he has had on and off for the past eight years flared up again.

Bird has made some minor changes to his technique.

”I’ve had stress fractures three or four times now, and the one that was giving me problems was a stress fracture that never healed when I was 19,” Bird said.

”It’s just something I’ve got to manage. Sometimes it hurts and sometimes it doesn’t, but hopefully with these technique changes I won’t be in too much strife,” he addded.

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