Australia A Tour of England - Men's
Bird expects lively decks for Ashes
Australia A quick says history lessons will likely prompt hosts to prepare wickets to suit pace veterans Anderson and Broad
17 April 2019, 09:13 PM AEST
Tasmania quick Jackson Bird is predicting the preparation of lively wickets for the upcoming Ashes as Australia look to end an 18-year away drought in the series.
Bird was on Monday selected as part of the Australia A four-day squad that will play three matches in the UK in July, ahead of the first Ashes Test on August 1.
The nine-Test representative played one match in the 2013 Ashes but was a keen observer during the 2015 series, in which Australia were beaten 3-2, and he believes the hosts will be reflecting on the pitches that were rolled out for those two defeats ahead of this northern summer.
"I don't think the wickets will be very flat," Bird said. "In the 2015 Ashes I think they (England) saw that Australia bowled really well on flat wickets – they won both those Tests, and the wickets they didn't bowl on as well as they'd have liked were the ones that did a bit with the seam."
While Australia's much-vaunted pace attack has yet to have any real success in England, the home side have the reliable figures of their country's two most prolific Test wicket-takers in James Anderson and Stuart Broad to call upon, both of whom have mastered the conditions in their own country.
More promisingly from an Australian perspective, Bird insists an increased familiarity with the Dukes ball and lessons from UK experience have him confident he can stake an Ashes claim.
The 32-year-old was in outstanding form in the summer's JLT Sheffield Shield, finishing as the top wicket-taker in the regular season with 50 wickets at 22.22, while 23 of those wickets came in four matches with the Dukes ball (average 21.61).
He also has experience in England to call on, having played 18 first-class matches over there including that solitary Test in 2013.
"I definitely think I'm good enough to play for Australia again, so hopefully in the first couple of (Australia A) games I can put in a couple of good performances, which I know that I can do," said Bird, who played his most recent Test in December 2017.
"This year at the back-end of the season I bowled reasonably well with the Dukes ball. I figured out a few things in my game which helped me control that ball a little bit more.
"That was pretty positive, and I've been to England a couple of times – every time I've been there I've learnt a few new things, spoken to a lot of English players over there about how they go about things.
"So if I do get selected, I'm pretty confident that I can do the job required."
One key lesson Bird said he had picked up in the UK was based on length, and the tall right-armer conceded it had been acquired the hard way.
"In England, it's probably not getting sucked in to bowling too full," he explained. "The wickets obviously do a bit but they can flatten out really quickly as well.
"So once the wicket flattens out and you bowl too full … it's pretty easy for the batsmen to score pretty quickly.
"You've just got to find the length that's going to hit the top of the stumps as quickly as possible, which I probably haven't done the last couple of times I've been there.
"Playing county cricket, there's so many bowlers who bowl under 130 and get a lot of wickets because they can hit the same line and length every ball and make the batsman play.
"I don't think out-and-out pace really scares too many players over there."
The Ashes begins on August 1 at Edgbaston.
Australia A tour of the UK
Australia A one-day squad: Travis Head (c), Matthew Wade, Will Pucovski, Peter Handscomb, Ashton Turner, Mitch Marsh (vc), D'Arcy Short, Kurtis Patterson, Ashton Agar, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Josh Hazlewood (vc), Kane Richardson, Sean Abbott
Australia A four-day squad: Tim Paine (c), Marcus Harris, Kurtis Patterson, Will Pucovski, Travis Head (vc), Peter Handscomb, Matthew Wade, Mitch Marsh, Michael Neser, Jon Holland, James Pattinson, Jackson Bird, Josh Hazlewood (vc), Chris Tremain
June 20: Australia A v Northamptonshire, The County Ground, Northamptonshire
June 23: Australia A v Derbyshire, County Ground, Derby
June 25: Australia A v Worcestershire, New Road, Worcester
June 30: Australia A v Gloucestershire, Bristol Country Ground, Bristol
July 2: Australia A v Gloucestershire, Bristol Country Ground, Bristol
July 7-10: Australia A v Sussex, Arundel Castle Cricket Ground, Arundel
July 13-16: Australia A v England Lions, The Spitfire Ground, Canterbury
July 23-26: Australia v Australia A, Ageas Bowl, Hampshire