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Bird hopeful for Bangladesh call

Paceman keen to retain his spot as next in line behind Australia's 'Big Four' quicks

Jackson Bird hasn't played competitive cricket for almost six months but the right-armer is hopeful Australia's fast-bowling pecking order will be retained and he'll earn a late call-up for the upcoming Qantas Tour of Bangladesh.

With the long-running pay dispute finally over and the two-Test series against Bangladesh to start later this month, national selectors are expected to add an extra bowler to the 13-man squad that was announced in June.

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If selectors opt for another pace option, Bird would be the favourite to get the nod having been part of tours to Sri Lanka 12 months ago and India earlier this year, while he also took 13 wickets in three Tests last Australian summer.

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But with uncapped leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson in the mix having also toured India this year, Bird conceded he was in the dark as to who would get the call.

"I haven't really heard much about selection at this stage," Bird told The Unplayable Podcast.

"I'm assuming they'll make a decision this week. Fingers crossed I do get the nod.

"Hopefully selection goes my way, but it's out of my hands."

Bird confirmed he will join Australia's 13-man squad for an eight-day training camp in Darwin next week, which will include a three-day practice match, before the touring party departs for Bangladesh on August 18.


Selectors had planned to announce their final Test squad member following the scheduled Australia A tour of South Africa in July and August, where Bird, Chadd Sayers, Chris Tremain and Swepson were set to lead the bowling attack.

But the pay dispute and consequent abandonment of the A tour denied Bird and his teammates a chance to impress selectors ahead of the Bangladesh tour, the Ashes this summer and Test series in South Africa early next year.

While Bird's selection chances were hurt by the playing group's decision to not go to South Africa, the right-armer said the right call was made.

"Yeah it hurts, it's always nice to be playing cricket," he said.

"I haven't played a game of cricket since the warm-up game against India A in February, so it's been quite a while since I've played any competitive cricket.

"It would have been nice to get another opportunity to push my claims for higher honours, but it was important from the playing group perspective that we stuck together with all the other players and did what was right for that.

"So it was completely understandable why we didn't go, but it was a bit disappointing that we couldn't go over there and push our claims."

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Having sat on the sidelines for Australia's past two Test tours of Asia, Bird says he could again be lumped with drinks-carrying duties in Bangladesh if he is called up.

And with James Pattinson and Pat Cummins back to full fitness, and injured spearheard Mitchell Starc expected to return for the Ashes this summer, the Sydney-born quick concedes he'll struggle to force his way into the XI when all of Australia's 'Big Four' quicks are injury free.

But he's keen to maintain his spot as the next-in-line should fitness or form evade the star quartet over the summer.

"When those guys are fit, I'm definitely behind all those four," he said of Starc, Cummins, Pattinson and Josh Hazlewood. "I'd like to think that I'm the fifth fast bowler behind those four.

"If you're not in the side you have to be ready to go at all times in case there is an injury, which there often is with fast bowlers. You've just got to make sure that when you do get an opportunity, like I did last summer, you're ready to go and bowling well.

"With those four bowlers around, it'd pretty hard to get a spot in the final team because they're four of the best fast bowlers in the world.

"It's a good thing for Australian cricket to have them all fit and firing at the same time, but probably not a good thing for the other blokes behind them trying to get into the side."

Australia in Bangladesh 2017


AUSTRALIA TEST SQUAD: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Ashton Agar, Hilton Cartwright, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, James Pattinson, Matthew Renshaw, Matthew Wade


FIXTURES


18 August Australia arrive


22-23 August Tour match, Fatullah


27-31 August First Test, Dhaka


4-8 September Second Test, Chittagong


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