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Warne backing for Bird

December 20, 2012 12:48:37 UK

Shane Warne has backed Jackson Bird to earn his Test debut in the Boxing Day Test against Sri Lanka.

The Tasmanian pace bowler was called up for the first time after Ben Hilfenhaus suffered a side strain in the first Test and Warne believes he will get the nod because Australia will not want to select two left-armers in Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson.

Sure, he's going to be a little bit nervous - so you should be - but I think he'll fit right in and do a great job.

Shane Warne

Warne is Bird's captain at the Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash League, and has seen enough of the 26-year-old to be confident he can make the step up to international cricket.

"Jackson Bird's been fantastic for us," Warne said. "He's got a great temperament, I think he'll fit in there fine [with the Test team].

"Sure, he's going to be a little bit nervous - so you should be - but I think he'll fit right in and do a great job."

Bird has been in outstanding form in the Sheffield Shield, having taken 27 wickets at an average of 20.56. The seamer has a superb record at the MCG, having claimed 14 wickets at an average of 12.07 in his two Shield matches there.

Warne said: "I think he'll open the bowling on Boxing Day. I don't think Australia will go with two left-armers.

"I think Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson both leak runs, can both take wickets but both go for a few too many runs, so [captain] Michael Clarke will want to have a little bit of control.

"I think someone like a Jackson Bird bowling at the MCG [would be ideal]. He knows the conditions well, he bowls a perfect length for the MCG wicket.

"I think he'll get the nod and I think he'll open the bowling, which will be a huge thrill for him and it will be great for the Stars to have another player playing for Australia. It'll be a good Chrissy present for him."

Australia are 1.61 to beat Sri Lanka in the second Test, with the tourists available at 6.00. Jackson Bird is 5.50 to be Australia's top first innings bowler.

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