Jackson Bird delivered an early new year present to his captain and to the Australian selectors.
Bird not only secured a spot in the SCG Test but proved he can be a longterm test player.
Mitchell Johnson may secure the plaudits for his smooth 92 not out and 6 wickets in the match but it is Bird’s debut performance with the ball (2/32 and 2/29) that should really excite Captain Michael Clarke.
Bird combined accuracy, pace and subtle variations with the ball in both innings. His first test wicket was typical of Bird’s simple approach to the bowling crease. Importantly, Bird looked like he was bowling within himself and always looked in control.
Already the new year is nearly upon us and the most immediate dilemma facing the Australian selectors will be the bowling lineup for the Sydney test.
Mitchell Starc has earned the right to come straight back into the side with his five wicket haul against Sri Lanka in the first test. This means that one bowler has to be left out of the third test and by judging upon performances across the summer, Nathan Lyon must be the casualty.
It’s hard to believe hearing that Australia should go into the Sydney test without a frontline spinner but based on form and production, the Aussies will be best served with a four pace attack with support from Shane Watson, Clarke and Dave Warner.
Lyon has failed to show a wicket taking ability on a day five of a test match, which is when a spinner should come into his own. Against the South Africans he was given ample opportunity to prove this skill and the Sri Lankans don’t seem to have a worry in the world facing the darts-man.
In Starc, out Lyon and Bird could be the word in 2013.