I love Jackson Bird. It would be harsh to say it’s a shame Hazlewood turned up while Bird was injured even though there are times I think it. He was initially anointed with the ‘new McGrath’ tag and it was a fair call early on. A five-fa and man of the match award in his second test had him well placed in the fast bowling pecking order. Unfortunately, after being dropped only one test later, he took consecutive hits with injuries.
It was great to see him back in the team for the New Zealand tour. While it took him a couple of tests to find his feet, he proved his worth in the third.
Long term, I’m not sure where he fits in. Obviously, it comes down to the selectors. With Hazlewood being the iron man of the bowling attack and performing very well, it sews up that line and length bowling position in the team. They love the left arm speed of Starc, and who wouldn’t? We know Lyon is the first bowler picked, and deservedly so. So it all lies with what the selectors want to do with the third seamer. Currently, it’s a rotating door depending on who is available, but Boof has openly said that frontline bowlers have to hit 140km/h. This is insanity to me.
By this standard, McGrath wouldn’t have got a game. If England had this policy, Anderson and Broad would only get a game now and then.
So where to for Bird? At this stage, it looks like he will be picked for the swinging/seaming conditions, like New Zealand. I wouldn’t really be expecting these for Sri Lanka. But, if a wicket has been hit by some rain in the days previous he might come into contention.
Prediction: Despite being the incumbent, I’m not sure he will get a game. I think he will only be an option if the two all-rounders/two spinners are not working or an injury hits.
Statistics Source: ESPNcricinfo