Smith confirms Bird will replace Starc

Captain Steve Smith confirmed that Jackson Bird replacing Mitchell Starc will be Australia’s only change for the Boxing Day Ashes Test against England.

Left-arm fast bowler Starc will miss the third Test of the series after not recovering sufficiently from a bruised heel he picked in the third game in Perth.

Tasmania seamer Bird has not played a Test for a year but has been a squad member for the last two tours – to India and Bangladesh – and in the current Ashes with the hosts having already wrapped up the series with two games still to play.

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Smith said of Bird in Melbourne: “He’s worked very hard. He hasn’t played since this game last year and he’s been on a few tours.

“Guys have come in and jumped him. When he goes back to Shield cricket, he’s dominated.

“He’s bowled exceptionally well in the first couple of Shield games that he played (this season).

“He bowls well out here (at the MCG). He deserves a crack and hopefully he goes really well.”

It is interesting to note that the 31-year-old Bird made his Test debut in the Boxing Day Test against Sri Lanka five years ago while he also played in the fixture against Pakistan last year.

Bird said: “I felt like the ball came out really nicely in those couple of weeks that I was away.

“I haven’t played a Test match since this game last year, so I’ve been ready to go for about 12 months now.”