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Australia pick Jackson Bird for first Test against New Zealand

Australia pick Jackson Bird for first Test against New Zealand
Jackson Bird (right) has 13 wickets from three Tests for Australia.
©REUTERS / Action Images

The Australian selectors have named fast bowler Jackson Bird in the playing XI of the first Test match against New Zealand which will begin on 12th February in Wellington.

Bird last appeared for Australia in the Ashes test against England in Chester-le-Street and it was only his third international appearance after having made his debut in 2012 against Sri Lanka in Melbourne.

The selectors' move to pick Bird for the first Test comes after their decision not to risk James Pattinson, who is yet to fully recover from a shin injury he sustained during the third Test against West Indies in Sydney.

Though Pattinson played in the Sheffield Shield game against Tasmania last week, Australian captain Steve Smith revealed that the selectors were not confident about the fitness of the 25-year-old.

However, Smith is backing Bird to perform well against New Zealand and is confident about their chances in the upcoming two-match Test series.

"The selectors aren't 100 percent sure whether (Pattinson) would get through this first Test match," Smith said.

"So that decision was made.

“I think Jackson Bird has been bowling extremely well.

“I saw him for the first time in the nets yesterday and I thought he bowled extremely well.

"I'm really happy with the XI we've picked and hopefully we can have a successful week." 

Peter Siddle, who missed the Sydney Test against West Indies with an ankle injury will make a return for the first Test and will lead the bowling attack alongside Josh Hazlewood and Bird. 

Left-handed batsman Shaun Marsh failed to make it to the final XI as Australia have made no changes to their batting lineup which played in the third Test against West Indies.

The pitch in Wellington will offer support to the swing bowlers and Smith knows that the Australian team will have to be at their best to tackle such conditions.

"We haven't been good enough with the bat on wickets that have been doing a bit in the last year or so.

"The wicket here looks like it might do a bit so we've got a bit to prove and we've got to adapt accordingly, a lot better than we have in recent times."

Australia have not lost a bilateral Test series against New Zealand since 1992-93 and have won eight out of the eleven contests played since then including three consecutive away victories in 2000, 2005 and 2010. 

Australia XI for First Test against New Zealand:

David Warner (vice captain), Joe Burns, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith (captain), Adam Voges, Mitch Marsh, Peter Nevill (wkt), Peter Siddle, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Jackson Bird. 

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