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Benched Bird clears air with Test selectors

26 September 2017

Jackson Bird has 34 wickets at 27.5 in eight Tests // Getty

Louis Cameron


Louis Cameron


Frustrated at being confined to 12th man duties yet again, Tasmania quick reveals he fronted selectors in Chittagong

Jackson Bird says he won't be left wondering where he sits in the fast-bowling pecking order, revealing he had a frank exchange of views with selectors Darren Lehmann and Trevor Hohns after yet again missing the cut on Australia's Qantas Tour of Bangladesh.

And although frustrated that he's been 12th man more times than he can count, Bird believes the open and honest conversations with coach Lehmann and chairman of selectors Hohns have put his mind at ease ahead of the summer.

The 30-year-old was overlooked for Australia’s Test series in Bangladesh despite fellow seamer Josh Hazlewood going down with a side strain during the first Test and Bird being the only reserve quick in the 14-man squad.

An eleventh-hour call-up to spinner Stephen O'Keefe was the latest setback in what's become a mentally taxing trend for the Sydney-born speedster.

Consigned to carrying the drinks yet again, Bird bailed up both Lehmann and Hohns in the stifling Chittagong heat.

"I was pretty disappointed," Bird told from Hobart where he's spent the past two weeks gearing up for Tasmania's JLT One-Day Cup campaign.

"The first Test, the wicket was diabolical really with the spin (on offer). We thought that's what we were going to get in the second Test so I fully understand why they wanted an extra spin bowler.

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"I was pretty vocal with the selectors in the lead-up in terms of trying to find out what they were thinking.

"During the game, they ask you if you need to talk about anything and … I spoke to the selectors with 'Boof' (Lehmann) and had my say, and what I thought about it.

"It was a good constructive conversation about where I stood and I'm quite happy knowing where I stand with the selectors. So there's no issues there."

It meant that Bird has now gone on seven Test trips abroad but only played on two of them, while he's also never played in the first Test of a home summer.

That’s despite a more-than-handy return of 34 wickets at 27.47 in eight Tests – of a possible 55 – since his debut nearly five years ago.

"It's great being around the Australian team and I love every minute of being around the Australian team, but it's frustrating being 12th man," he continued.

"I think I've done about 20 Test matches as 12th man now. In that respect, it's frustrating not being able to play.

Jackson Bird on 12th man duty in South Africa in 2014 // Getty

"(But) there's not much you can do about that sort of stuff. I understand the selections and that's how it works. I could be in a worse situation."

One might forgive Bird if he were to direct some of his frustration at the four-member selection panel, but he says their candid feedback helped him digest the news and move on.

"That's the great thing about 'Boof' and 'Cracker' (Hohns), they're very honest about where you stand and they're very honest in answering the questions that you give them," he said.

"It's good in that respect in that you can find out what's going on. It makes it easier for you if you know exactly where you sit."

Bird is under no illusions as to exactly where he now finds himself in the fast-bowling queue.

While he was mighty close to a recall in Bangladesh, he’ll find it difficult unseating the much-hyped quartet of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and James Pattinson for the Magellan Ashes series.

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But should injury strike, Bird hopes he's front of mind for the selection panel.

"Realistically I know I'm behind those four guys," he said. "They're four of the best fast bowlers in the world when they're up and running.

"There's good competition for that fifth spot. Nathan Coulter-Nile has come back brilliantly from injury, he's bowling well over in India, he's bowling fast and swinging the ball away.

"I think the competition for spots is good for Australian cricket. If the ‘Big Four’ are fit, it'd be a pretty hard team to get into.

"But injuries happen and you never know. I've just got to make sure I start my season well and if there is a spot up for grabs, make sure you're ready to perform.

"I've never started the summer in a Test squad so if you don't get picked for the first Test, it's not the be all and end all.

"There's plenty of cricket during the summer and after the summer as well, a big tour to South Africa coming up after that."

About the Writer


Louis Cameron is a Melbourne-based journalist. A former Victorian Bushrangers fast bowler, Louis joined the team with assistance from the Australian Cricketers' Association's Internship Program in 2016.