After occupying the role of reserve paceman for a full year, it’s safe to say Jackson Bird is ready and eager now that Mitchell Starc has been ruled unavailable for the Boxing Day Ashes Test.
The announcement that Starc will be rested during the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne came early on Sunday morning, confirming expectations that selectors would not risk aggravating the heel he damaged in the Ashes encounter in Perth.
That contest sealed Australia’s grip on the Ashes and raised Bird’s hopes of a role more important than running drinks for Australia since his most recent Test, which came a year ago at the MCG.
The right-armer has been part of the Test squad throughout the year but couldn’t break into Steve Smith’s XI when Starc broke down during a tour of India. Likewise, his hopes were thwarted after Josh Hazlewood suffered a side strain during a series in Bangladesh.
Bird’s long away appears will now end that Starc has been officially ruled out of the fourth Ashes Test because of that bruised heel.
“I have to prepare as if I’m going to play and be ready to go if any of those guys don’t come up,” Bird told reporters on Saturday. “I’ve been ready to go for 12 months, basically.”
“It’s a little bit frustrating to not get an opportunity … but I’m realistic about where I sit and the fast bowlers ahead of me.
“It would be unbelievable to play an Ashes Test on Boxing Day,”
“You can only have 11 players in the team and we’ve got such good fast bowlers at the moment.”
Starc, Hazlewood and Pat Cummins were all rested from bowling duties in the MCG nets on Saturday.
Wicketkeeper Tim Paine is yet to join the squad after his father-in-law suffered a stroke, but he is expected to be behind the stumps on Boxing Day
Australia is aiming to take a 4-0 lead in the series after it reclaimed the Ashes urn in Perth.
“Tim is probably one of the most mentally strong players I’ve ever played with,” Bird said of his Tasmania teammate.