Arthur backs Bird to fly high against Lankans today
Australia coach Mickey Arthur has backed uncapped paceman Jackson Bird to justify his selection ahead of Mitchell Starc and shine in the Boxing Day Test against Sri Lanka
Bird was named in the line-up yesterday and will be entrusted with the new ball after being given the nod over Starc, who has been controversially rested despite starring in the first Test in Hobart.
Starc bowled his country to victory with figures of five for 63 in the second innings at Blundstone Arena as Sri Lanka’s efforts to gain a draw fell just short.
Bird will team up with left-armer Mitchell Johnson at the Melbourne Cricket Ground as the hosts look to claim an unassailable lead in the three-match series.
“We’ve got a lot of faith in Jackson,” Arthur said of Bird, who has taken 80 Sheffield Shield wickets for Tasmania in 14 matches at an average of 17.5. Bird flanked Arthur at yesterday’s press conference.
“...Jackson brings everything that we want...pace, he brings swing and consistency. He’s done it all. We’ve got no issues about throwing the new ball to him,” Arthur added.
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, will look to turn in an improved batting display at the MCG after being bundled out for 255 in pursuit of a victory target of 393 in Hobart.
One player who is hoping to do better is Angelo Mathews who made 74 in the first innings in the opening Test but contributed just 19 in a disappointing second knock.
Clarke confident of playing Boxing Day Test
Australia captain Michael Clarke (left) completed a light training session yesterday, but refused to take a call on his fitness until today morning.
The 31-year-old injured his right hamstring in the first Test and has been racing the clock to be fit to lead his side.
He came through a variety of running drills under the watchful eye of physio Alex Kountouris in the team’s final training session and remained optimistic of taking to the field today.
Clarke will not have a last-minute fitness test, with the decision to be made based on how he feels following today’s training session.