Lee says Johnson is the right choice

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    Australia’s former pace spearhead Brett Lee says Mitchell Johnson is the only contender to replace the injured Ben Hilfenhaus for the Boxing Day Test.

    Johnson made a fine return after a 12-month absence from the team with a six-wicket performance in the Perth Test against South Africa earlier this month before being named 12th man for the first Test against Sri Lanka in Hobart this week.

    A side-strain injury to Hilfenhaus during the Test has prompted Australia’s selectors to add another pace bowler to their squad for Melbourne.

    The uncapped Jackson Bird joins left-arm quicks Johnson and Mitchell Starc and fast bowling leader Peter Siddle in a battle for three spots.

    Siddle claimed match figures of 9-104 in Australia’s 137-run win in Hobart while Starc’s second-innings performance of 5-63 was described by coach Mickey Arthur as awesome.

    “To me, the natural thing to do would be to give it to Mitchell Johnson because he’s earned the right to be back in the Australian side,” said Lee, whose tally of 310 Test wickets places him behind only Glenn McGrath (563) and Dennis Lillee (355) among Aussie quicks.

    “Being 12th man, now having the opportunity to come through, someone’s got to fill the void of Ben Hilfenhaus now.

    “So you’d think naturally what would happen is it would be Mitchell Johnson that gets his opportunity.”

    Bird regards Johnson as a great bowler although he’s confident he can play the role of third seamer if required.

    “I certainly don’t bowl as fast at Mitchell Johnson does,” Bird said in Melbourne on Wednesday.

    “Whoever gets the nod between me and him will do a great job.”

    Sydney-born Bird only made his first-class debut 13 months ago after accepting an offer to play for Tasmania. After topping the wicket-taking table in the Shield last season with 53 victims, the right-arm paceman is on top again with 27 at 20.55 in six matches.

    Bird says he’s not a like-for-like replacement for swing specialist Hilfenhaus.

    “I tend to hit the wicket a bit more,” Bird said.

    “It depends on what the selectors want to do, in terms of playing two left armers or one left-armer.”

    Bird says he loves bowling at the MCG where he has taken 14 wickets at 12.07 in two Shield games.

    “There’s always a little bit in the wicket for the fast bowlers,” he said.

    The addition of a fresh face would bring new energy to the squad, according to Arthur.

    “There’s no secret that we’re looking for guys who can bowl at almost 140 kilometres an hour and he certainly can do that,” Arthur said.

    However the national coach admits he’s never seen Bird play.

    “I’m really looking forward to having a look at him and seeing what he can give us,” Arthur said.

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (5)

    • December 20th 2012 @ 11:47am
      Timmuh said | December 20th 2012 @ 11:47am | ! Report

      “However the national coach admits he’s never seen Bird play.”
      Does anyone still think the captain and coach should be selectors? That is exactly one of the points many have been arguing all along – the captain and coach often don’t see players not in the national set-up.

    • December 20th 2012 @ 12:14pm
      Rhys said | December 20th 2012 @ 12:14pm | ! Report

      Timmuh, I agree. I think a better set up would be for the NSP to remain a group of 5, but for both captain and coach to have non voting roles. They could be involved in each selection meeting, but only in an advisory capacity – to give feedback and opinions about incumbent players. The core trio of selectors could take that feedback into account, factor it in when considering potential changes, but the final selections would be their responsibility.

      • Roar Guru

        December 20th 2012 @ 1:45pm
        Andy_Roo said | December 20th 2012 @ 1:45pm | ! Report

        Captain and coach should not be selectors. Advisory roles would be perfect.

    • December 20th 2012 @ 1:46pm
      Felix said | December 20th 2012 @ 1:46pm | ! Report

      Spot on gents, couldn’t agree more. I showed this article to another avid cricket friend of mine. His response was “What’s the bloody point of having him (Arthur) then? There is a batting coach, a bowling coach, a fielding coach, Inverarity picks the team, so you might as well replace him with someone far better looking and preferably of the opposite sex.”

      I don’t think they should get a final say in the selection, no. I do think it’s important for the captain to at least be consulted as to which players they are looking at and why. At the end of the day he is the one who has to put their labour to use, so he probably should know what’s going on. I can only hope and pray that Arthur has at least typed “Jackson Bird” into google and hit images so he knows who to look for day one of the test.

    • December 21st 2012 @ 1:36am
      The no. Three said | December 21st 2012 @ 1:36am | ! Report

      How can Jackson Bird’s efforts in state cricket be ignored. B Lee must be ignorant, and biased. Based on the last few years, Johnson’s output will not to be missed.

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