Coulter-Nile injury opens door for Bird

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    Seamer Jackson Bird says he is happy to be Australia’s Ashes back-up option after a career-threatening injury to Nathan Coulter-Nile cleared the path for the Tasmanian.

    Bird will miss the third Sheffield Shield round to join Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins for a Brisbane training camp next week, in a sure sign he will be named in the Australian squad for the first Test.

    West Australian paceman Coulter-Nile had excelled in the last fortnight for his state and was Australia’s leading quick in the recent one-day tour of India.

    Many tipped that form would win him the fourth fast-bowling spot in the Australian squad for the Gabba Test later this month.

    The latest setback follows stress fractures last summer and, at 30 years of age, casts serious doubt over his future.

    With James Pattinson also on the long-term injury list it leaves Bird out in front as Australia’s fourth fast-bowling option.

    The 30-year-old is happy to be in the mix and has no qualms about being referred to as a back-up, ready to play if injury strikes the NSW trio.

    “If those guys are all fit at the start of a Test match they more than likely will play,” Bird said.

    “I’ve got no issues with that; those guys are three of the best fast bowlers in the world when they’re up and running.

    “I’m under no illusions where I sit in that pecking order … but there’s been a lot of injuries around in the last 12 months so I’ll be ready to go.”

    The probing quick has 34 wickets at 27.5 in his eight Tests, including a solitary Ashes encounter on English soil in 2013.

    But he knows not to take a call-up for granted after being controversially overlooked for his home Test last summer in favour of Joe Mennie, who lasted just one match.

    It meant a text from coach Darren Lehmann telling him to pack his bags for Brisbane was well received.

    “I’ve been let down by selections in the last couple of years so you never get your hopes up,” he said.

    “It’s probably good for my mental state more than anything because thinking about it, it’s in the back of your mind all the time.”

    © AAP 2017