JACKSON BIRD – is the print big enough for the national selectors to see?
Somehow Tasmanian Bird has been flying under the radar. In his debut season last year he was voted Sheffield Shield player of the year by his peers – a first for a newcomer.
This season Bird leads the Shield wicket-takers with 27 at 20.55.
In the two seasons, Bird has captured 87 wickets from 17 games, at 19.72 – mighty impressive figures.
But not a flicker of recognition from the selection panel for the soon to be 26-year-old.
Not so with new-ball partner Luke Butterworth. He has the selector’s attention, despite the fact he’s three years older than Bird.
Butterworth has taken 25 Shield wickets this season at 17.72.
But late last month at Bellerive, Butterworth and Bird both bowled 13 overs against Western Australia – Bird took 6-25, Butterworth 0-18 – the West bundled out for 67.
Three days later Butterworth was named in the Chairman’s X1 to meet Sri Lanka in a three-dayer at Manuka, starting December 6. Bird missed out.
Go figure. Bird keeps being given the bird by the selectors when there’s no doubting his ability on a consistent basis.
Which makes you wonder what the selectors will do to replace the retiring Ricky Ponting against Sri Lanka in the three-Test series starting December 14 at Bellerive.
On show at Manuka will be leading contenders Usman Khawaja, who will captain the side, Alex Doolan who made an impressive 161* for Australia A against the South Africans, and the talented young all-rounder Glenn Maxwell.
In the Ponting replacement mix will also be Phillip Hughes, and the long-forgotten Callum Ferguson.
* Doolan (27) has scored 570 first class runs this season at 81.42 with that 161* his top score.
* Hughes (24) has averaged 47.63 this season for his 524 runs, top score 158.
* Ferguson (28) has scored 463 at 42.09 with a top score of 164.
* And Khawaja (25) at 39.81, top score 138.
But their chances depend on how the selectors rate the baggy green batting order:
* Openers – David Warner, Ed Cowan, Shane Watson, Hughes, and Rob Quiney.
* No 3 – Michael Clarke, Watson, Khawaja, Hughes.
* No 4 – Clarke, Watson, Khawaja. Doolan, Ferguson, Maxwell.
* No 5 – Clarke, Hughes, Doolan, Ferguson.
* No 6 – Mike Hussey alone.
* No 7 – Matt Wade alone.
The batting permutations are many, but there’s only one Jackson Bird.