Ricky Ponting peeled off an unbeaten 162 for Tasmania against the Vics at the MCG yesterday.
The 37-year-old former skipper took 242 deliveries to bring up his 78th first class ton, which included 20 fours and a six, to take his Sheffield Shield average this season to 145.
And it wasn’t a shabby attack Ponting faced: every one of the seven the Vics used has played for Australia in some form.
James Pattinson (0-89), Clint McKay (1-64), Peter Siddle (0-99), Andrew McDonald (0-30), John Hastings (2-58), Glenn Maxwell (1-22), and Cameron White (0-56).
An ideal knock for Ponting to warm up for the South Africans, but Jackson Bird is also hot.
In only his 14th first-class game, the 25-year-old paceman NSW didn’t want has taken 71 wickets at 20.
His debut against South Australia at Bellerive in November last year gave no indication of what was in store with 1-54 off 7 and 1-34 off 10.
But by the end of last season in just seven games, Bird had taken 48 wickets at 15.75 and been voted the Australian Sheffield Shield Player-of-the-Year by his peers.
Unheard of recognition.
No Australian bowler is within cooee, yet the pacemen’s pecking order for Test berths is long if all of then are fit with Ryan Harris, Ben Hilfenhaus, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Siddle, and Pattinson.
But sooner than later the national selectors cannot possibly ignore a 135kph paceman who makes every batsman play just about every ball, working on the proven old theory of “you miss, I hit”
Among the 71 wickets are two games of 10-wickets for the match, five 5-wickets in an innings, and three 4-wicket hauls.
Strike rate 40.9, economy rate 2.94.
Keep an eye on him – Jackson Bird – who a bit over a year ago was trundling for Manly in the Sydney first grade competition with the NSW selectors not at all interested.