Melbourne [Australia], Dec 25 (ANI): Australian paceman Jackson Bird is all set to replace injured Mitchell Starc in the Playing XI for the fourth Test of the Ashes series to be held in Melbourne from Boxing Day.
Starc returned home on crutches after bowling with a bruised heel on day four and five of the WACA Test, which Australia went on to win by an innings and 41 runs to take an unassailable 3-0 lead in the Ashes series.
Bird, the Tasmanian fast bowler, will now replace Starc in the team to mark his first match this year and ninth Test appearance since making his debut in 2012.
Confirming the news, Australian skipper Steve Smith said that Bird, who was the leading wicket taker in JLT Sheffield Shield with 25 scalps in four games for Tasmania this season, deserved the chance of selection.
"He's worked very hard. He hasn't played since this game last year and he's been on a few tours. Guys have come in and jumped him. When he goes back to Shield cricket, he's dominated," cricket.com.au quoted Smith, as saying.
"He's bowled exceptionally well in the first couple of Shield games that he played (this season).He bowls well out here (at the MCG). He deserves a crack and hopefully he goes really well," he added.
It should be noted that Bird's inclusion is the only change in the Playing XI that thrashed England by an innings and 41 runs to regain the Ashes title in the third Test in Perth.
"The selectors have spoken to him, particularly when Patty Cummins came in India.It's tough at the time but he's taken every bit of advice and every bit of criticism.He's been fantastic around the group the whole time. Never complained, never whinged, just got on with the job and that shows great character," Smith said.
Meanwhile, Peter Handscomb continues to remain sidelined after losing his spot to all-rounder Mitchell Marsh for the WACA Test.
The Australia Test squad is as follows: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine (wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Jackson Bird. (ANI)