Selectors continue to flip Jackson the Bird

David Lord Columnist

By David Lord, David Lord is a Roar Expert

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    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.

    David Lord
    David Lord

    David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn?t get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world?s great sporting spectacles

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    The Crowd Says (64)

    • December 3rd 2012 @ 7:20am
      Jamie said | December 3rd 2012 @ 7:20am | ! Report

      I think everyone’s being a little premature about Bird. For one thing, he gets a lot of his wickets at Bellreive, which is by far the greenest deck in the country. For another, he’s still only had less than 20 games.

      He strikes me as being similar to Trent Copeland, who had similar levels of hype (and FC wickets) a season or so ago. A good bowler, but not someone who will ever dominate at test level. Buggered if I can find any reaon that Hastings was picked ahead of him though!?

      Coming back to Bird, I think its the lack of something extra that makes the difference between effectiveness at shield level and the same at test level – e.g. height and bounce (aka McGrath etc) or extra pace or swing.

      Being tall or fast isn’t a guarantee of test success, but if those attributes can be married to control, the end product is something special. This for mine is the reason that the selectors keep picking guys like Starc or Hazelwood. They’re looking for the next leader of the attack. I think Pattinson has the goods, but he just keeps getting injured.

      • December 3rd 2012 @ 9:20am
        jameswm said | December 3rd 2012 @ 9:20am | ! Report

        You can’t tell me Bird (or Hazlewood for that matter) wouldn’t have done significantly better than Hastings.

        • December 3rd 2012 @ 10:53am
          Jamie said | December 3rd 2012 @ 10:53am | ! Report

          Not even slightly. Hastings is one of the most bafflingly bad selections in years. I would have liked to see Butterworth, Bird, Cutting, Coulter-Nile, Copeland, McKay or even Doug the Rug in front of him!! Just making the point that I don’t think Bird is going to be the Messiah.

          • December 3rd 2012 @ 11:49am
            matt h said | December 3rd 2012 @ 11:49am | ! Report

            It was a selection to cover Hilf’s into the wind bowling at the WACA and also to cover Watson’s lack of fitness. Failed on both counts. If Mackay wasn’t injured I would have liked to see him get a go. I haven’t seen enough of Bird, except for hearing that he is not particularly quick but is very accurate and moves the ball when comditions are helpful. He probably would have fared the same as the bowlers we picked – looked great the first innings, but istruggled n the second when the wicket flattened out.

      • December 3rd 2012 @ 12:40pm
        John said | December 3rd 2012 @ 12:40pm | ! Report

        Copeland earned his place through excellent FC returns, just like Bird. He didn’t do anything wrong in Sri Lanka, then shafted because he’s apparently “not fast enough” even though he was able to put great pressure on the Lankans. When will people learn that someone like him can bowl all day (fitness is not an issue), consistent line and length, moves the ball both ways and takes wickets. You say he is “A good bowler, but not someone who will ever dominate at test level.”, how can you tell, he never got the chance! See Philander for something similar and he seems to be able to do the business, as a cricket writer said yesterday, “After sometimes falling into trap of obsessing too much with raw pace, VP he’s a great reminder for me to recalibrate”, at least someone knows a decent test bowler when they see one! Raw pace is NOT taking wickets, how about we start thinking about smarter bowlers, not necessarily fast. Siddle looked half dead after 20 overs in one day and while I know he is our heroic put in bowler, 20 overs in a day is not something that should fatigue a leading bowler in conditions he is already accustomed too! On Cummins, Pattinson, Hazlewood, these guys are still growing so no surprises that they get injured. They need time in shield cricket to learn their work properly, learn how their body works when bowling long spells, be able to maintain accuracy for long periods. Hours and hours of grade and shield cricket till they 25, then once they know what they can achieve, pick them then. Yes they will be good, but they are simply not ready to go.

        • December 3rd 2012 @ 12:55pm
          Disco said | December 3rd 2012 @ 12:55pm | ! Report

          I agree re: Copeland.

    • December 3rd 2012 @ 8:10am
      James said | December 3rd 2012 @ 8:10am | ! Report

      Jamie,
      Hobart isn’t the issue. Both Bird and Butterworth have better records away from Hobart. Do you think they have been premature around Starc who has 28 first class matches with 78 wickets at 32? How about Cummins and his 4 first class matches with 16 wickets at 33? Or Pattison with his 20 first class matches with 85 wickets at 22.3? Or Hazelwood -15 matches, 43 wickets at 32. Bird has played 17 matches and taken 87 wickets at 19.7 with an average of 19 away from Hobart.

      David,
      You are cherry picking the figures you want. In the second innings Butterworth took 5/50. I agree that Bird needs to get picked quickly, but Butterworth has had an incredible 3 years – topped the wicket takers in 2010/11 with 45 at 17.5, 7th in 2011/12 with 31 at 23 and currently second this season with 25 at 17. And he has scored 2 centuries and bats at an average of 27.5.

      • December 3rd 2012 @ 11:08am
        Jamie said | December 3rd 2012 @ 11:08am | ! Report

        James-to me, the difference between Bird and someone like a Starc or a Cummins or a Pattinson (being the 3 young selectors darlings) is that there is a lot more room for improvement in Starc et al. On the other hand, Bird is basically about as good as he’s going to get. He isn’t going to get taller, he isn’t going to be quicker and he isn’t going to be able to swing it more than he already does.

        There is space in the test team for someone who bowls 25 overs of outswing at 130 klicks, and right now that space is the Hilf. Could be Bird and he could do as well, but I’d be surprised if he was as potent in tests as he is in the Shield.

        On a bit of a tangent, look at the last 4-5 really good quicks Australia has had. None of McDermott, McGrath, Gillespie or Lee were picked solely on the strength of tonnes of wickets over several seasons. They were all spotted by the selectors early in their careers as having something.

        McGrath debuted in the shield in 92/3 and played for Oz the next season with only 1 FC 5 wicket haul to his name. McD was 18 when he was picked and Dizzy was basically picked off the back of his performance in the 94/5 shield final.

        I’m all for merit-based selections, but I think that there is space for fast tracking the best young talent also!

        • December 3rd 2012 @ 11:46am
          James said | December 3rd 2012 @ 11:46am | ! Report

          True true. Although I think that Lee was incredibly over rated as a player.

          Surely Bird has to come above Hazlewood and Hastings in the team.

          It just seems funny how many of the current selectors darlings (I’ll include Hazlewood here) come from NSW.

    • December 3rd 2012 @ 8:18am
      Christo the Daddyo said | December 3rd 2012 @ 8:18am | ! Report

      This article was worth publishing just for the headline…:)

      Congratulations to whoever came up with that one!

    • December 3rd 2012 @ 8:56am
      jamesb said | December 3rd 2012 @ 8:56am | ! Report

      Here is an idea for the selectors:

      Why don’t they pick bowlers who take wickets at Shield level? Picking the likes of Starc and Hazelwood was premature. Both those bowlers need to be taking wickets at domestic level.

      Butterworth, Cutting and Bird should be given an opportunity. Also left arm quick Putland is another bowler who is slowly biulding his case.

      So against Sri lanka, my bowlers are Siddle, Cutting, Bird or Butterworth and Lyon. Drop Hilfy, he is not taking wickets.

    • December 3rd 2012 @ 9:14am
      James said | December 3rd 2012 @ 9:14am | ! Report

      JamesB, you are crazy. We should be talking about bringing in Josh Lalor. Why, because he is from NSW and has a moderate record with 18 wickets at 27.

      Seriously though, I think that Faulkner at 22 years old, 107 wickets from 30 matches at 23 has to be considered as a strong long term prospect. He can bat as well and plays well under pressure (came in at 5/42 on the weekend, scored 66 and then took 4/32)

      Given the batting ability of both Cutting and Butterworth, is it worth considering playing 5 bowlers?

      • December 3rd 2012 @ 9:25am
        jameswm said | December 3rd 2012 @ 9:25am | ! Report

        6 bowlers including Watson? And what if Maxwell is your spinner?

        5. Watson
        6. Maxwell not really a test no.6
        7. W-K
        8. Butterworth
        9. Cutting/Faulkner – good test no.9
        10. Siddle – very good test no.10
        11. Pattinson – very good test no.11

        • December 3rd 2012 @ 9:44am
          James said | December 3rd 2012 @ 9:44am | ! Report

          Maybe a bit of a stretch although I’d put Wade at 6. I think it depends on how much bowling Watson is able to do. He was clearly the pick of the Australian bowlers in the 2nd innings – the only one going for less than 4 an over (other than Ponting) and the clear problem in Adelaide was the lack of a 5th bowler particularly once Pattinson went down.

          • December 3rd 2012 @ 12:41pm
            sittingbison said | December 3rd 2012 @ 12:41pm | ! Report

            james I’m not sure if you were having a lend, but Watson was useless in the second innings. He OPENED the bowling, and was only getting 125kmh. At the WACA. That spell, combined with Hastings also only bowling at 125kmh was the reason Smith and Amla got away. There was NO pressure from the northern end into the wind. They were slow, and not accurate bowling well outside bith off and leg stump, and not swinging it into the freo doctor.

            And he only bowled the 9 overs. Compared to Starc 28, Johnson 25, Hastings 19 and Lyon 22. Basically he should not even be considered a bowler when selected. If he bowls a bit fine, but should not be relied on.

            One thing that really peeves me about Watson is opening the bowling and batting at 3. Thats saying he is the best bowler AND the best batsman in the team. At best he is a 5 or 6 batsman NOT an opener or 3, and he is a fourth or fifth change bowler NOT an opener. They are pandering to his ego.

            And IF he is now injured again after only the 9 overs, the selectors and medical staff should be sacked, and he not selected until putting in a solid block of games at Shield level. The ongoing is he/isnt he fit saga is destabilising.

            • December 3rd 2012 @ 1:09pm
              James said | December 3rd 2012 @ 1:09pm | ! Report

              After 50 overs South Africa was 2/283

              Hastings 14 overs 0/67 (4.78 runs per over)
              Starc 12 overs 1/85 (7.08 runs per over)
              Johnson 11 overs 1/59 (5.36 runs per over)
              Lyon 6 overs 1/29 (4.83 runs per over)
              Watson 5 overs 0/17 (3.4 runs per over)

              And it was Watson’s fault that the South African’s got away in the second innings?

              I agree that he shouldn’t be opening the bowling (neither should Hastings) and should be considered as the 5th bowler. He only bowled 9 overs because he is still recovering from injury and the selectors obviously thought that a partially fit Watson can’t do any worse than Quiney.

    • December 3rd 2012 @ 9:39am
      Jason said | December 3rd 2012 @ 9:39am | ! Report

      I haven’t seen enough of Bird to comment on whether he deserves a run but what I have seen, I do wonder if he is quick enough for his style of bowler.

      As for the batting – there is no way Callum Ferguson should be anywhere near the test team.

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