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Bird set for debut

December 24, 2012 10:11:47 UK

Australia have confirmed that Jackson Bird will make his debut in the Boxing Day Test against Sri Lanka.

Mitchell Starc will be replaced by Jackson Bird for the Boxing Day Test.

Bird will play after selectors opted to rest Mitchell Starc amid concerns over his workload.

Captain Michael Clarke has spent time in the nets as he bids to confirm his fitness for the second Test at the MCG. Clarke is fighting to shake off a hamstring injury, with Shane Watson on standby to lead the side and Usman Khawaja set to come in if the skipper is unfit.

Last season's leading wicket taker in the Sheffield Shield, Bird gets his chance after Starc's 5-63 on the final day of the first Test took its toll. The tall left-armer is being rested to avoid Australia having yet another fast bowler ruled out through injury.

Seven pace men are already on the sidelines and chairman of selectors John Inverarity had indicated Starc would play only one of the two remaining Tests. Inverarity said Starc's workload is at dangerously high levels.

"It's bowling loads," he said. "The science behind it is they've got to build up their bowling loads so the oscillations (variations) are not very significant.

"If they do become significant, as they have for Mitchell, you enter a danger period, a high-risk period. He has entered that now. We don't want a high-risk strategy."

Inverarity remains doubtful Clarke will be ready to play at the MCG.

"Look, he's travelling optimistically and well, but he's 50-50 as to whether he'll be fit enough to play on Boxing Day," Inverarity said.

"He's a very precious asset and I would go low risk," he added.

"He's always upbeat, he desperately wants to play, but we certainly don't want to push him especially hard in a Test and for him to break down."

Australia are 1.61 to win the second Test, with Sri Lanka priced at 6.00. Michael Clarke is 3.60 to be Australia's top first innings batsman.

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