Australia news: Fast bowlers from Down Under set for County stints

County Cricket

Australian fast bowlers Jackson Bird and Matt Kelly will both play in the early rounds of the County Championship in 2022.

Bird has signed on for a short stint at Kent while Kelly is due to be available for Northants’ first six Championship games.

Veteran seamer Bird will enjoy playing for a third County Cricket team, having previously featured for Hampshire and Nottinghamshire.

Kent’s director of cricket Paul Downton said: “[Bird] is an experienced bowler who will strengthen our squad as we begin our Championship campaign. He is a proven wicket-taker who will also be a great mentor for our young seamers, and we look forward to welcoming him to Canterbury.”

It is expected that Bird will join up with Kent following the end of Tasmania’s run in this season’s ongoing Sheffield Shield.

On joining Kent, Bird said: “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to play County Championship cricket again.

“There is a talented bowling attack at Kent and I’m looking forward to the challenges that come with that, and helping my new teammates get points on the board at the start of the season.”

Kelly is Northants second overseas signing for the Championship along with New Zealand’s Will Young – who will also play in the Royal London Cup – while Black Caps allrounder James Neesham has signed for the Blast.

“Matt possesses a fantastic skillset that we feel is well suited to English conditions and will complement our bowling attack nicely,” Chris Liddle, Northants’ bowling coach, said.

“He’s got a great record in red-ball cricket and we think he’s a perfect fit for what we need, I can’t wait to get him over here and see what he can bring to the group.”

Kelly has claimed more than 100 first-class wickets since his Sheffield Shield debut, at a decent average of just 29.

“It has been a long time held ambition of mine to play county cricket.” Kelly said.

“I’m delighted to be given that opportunity by Northamptonshire and can’t wait to test myself in different conditions against Division One line-ups.”

Kelly will be available for selection in Northamptonshire’s first six rounds of the County Championship, starting against Gloucestershire at The County Ground on 7 April.