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Bird out, Sayers in for South Africa tour

Captain Steve Smith confirms injured Tasmania paceman will miss trip to SA, with South Australian called up

South Australia paceman Chadd Sayers is a late addition to Australia's touring party for the South Africa Test series, after fellow quick Jackson Bird was ruled out with a hamstring injury. 

Bird injured his hamstring on Saturday, during Tasmania's Sheffield Shield clash with Queensland in Brisbane, leaving the field immediately after pulling up sore from a delivery, and is expected to be sidelined for the next two to three weeks. 

Australia head coach Darren Lehmann said yesterday the back-up paceman, who most recently played the fourth Ashes Test, would undergo a medical assessment, and today, skipper Steve Smith confirmed the withdrawal of the 31-year-old.

"It's disappointing for Jackson, but it's exciting for Chadd at the same time," said Smith, fronting the press after winning last night's AB Medal. "It's a like-for-like (replacement), they're both pretty similar. They both stand the seam up nicely and Chadd's been rewarded for what he's done in Shield cricket over the last couple of years."

Sayers, who took a record-breaking 60 Sheffield Shield wickets last season, is yet to debut for Australia, but now joins a five-strong pace group for the four-Test series in South Africa, alongside Test regulars Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and young uncapped WA speedster Jhye Richardson.

"He's very accurate, he knows what he's doing, he stands the seam up," Smith said of Sayers. "If there's anything in the wicket, he'll certainly get everything out of it.

"He's a difficult one, because he's so short, not many balls go over the stumps which makes him a pretty handy proposition when the ball is seaming around. It's a good selection."

Ironically, it was Richardson's selection that drew surprise from Sayers originally, when the Redbacks seamer expressed his disillusionment at having missed the tour. 

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At the time, head selector Trevor Hohns explained the decision as one of squad balance.

"Chadd is performing well, as he always does, but with Jackson Bird there he has the jump on Chadd at the moment, there's no doubt about that," Hohns said.

"We have him, Josh Hazlewood is a well-renowned seam bowler, then we have the good pace of Starc, Cummins and Jhye Richardson."

While Bird's absence opens the door for Sayers, it is another injury blow for the NSW-born quick, who has played nine Tests across the past five years.

"It is tough news for him," Smith added. "I saw him yesterday afternoon as he was going into see the physio. He's a terrific guy to have around the group, he works incredibly hard.

"He's just a great guy to have on tour, he's a great team man. I certainly feel for him that he has this unfortunate injury."

Qantas tour of South Africa

Australia squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine, Jhye Richardson, Chadd Sayers, Mitchell Starc.

Warm-up match v SA Invitational XI, Sahara Park, Benoni, Feb 22-24

First Test Kingsmead, Durban, March 1-5

Second Test St George's Park, Port Elizabeth, March 9-13

Third Test Newlands, Cape Town, March 22-26

Fourth Test Wanderers, Johannesburg, March 30-April 3

Visit cricket.com.au/travel for more information