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Bird celebrates Test squad selection

By AAP .
21 January 2014 05:24AM EST

AUSTRALIA'S Ashes-winning pace attack will have the new and improved Jackson Bird as a quality back-up bowler for their Test tour of South Africa.

Named on Monday in a 15-man touring squad, the Tasmania quick has been starved of first-class cricket for the past six months after breaking down with a back injury during the 2013 Ashes tour.

While Bird has been absent from the Sheffield Shield scene this summer, he's made a successful return at domestic T20 level for the Melbourne Stars.

The tall right-armer has claimed 12 wickets in six BBL matches and says he's bowling faster these days after some remodelling on his action with state and national bowling coaches.

"I'm bowling with a lot of confidence. The ball's coming out nicely," Bird said.

"I've picked up a yard of pace I reckon as well.

"My action's changed a little bit. I'm more side-on at the crease now when my back foot lands.

"It's allowing me to get through the crease a little bit better which has probably given me that extra yard of pace."

Bird, who has taken 13 wickets in his three Tests, says it'll be tough to win selection ahead of Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle and Allan Border Medallist Mitchell Johnson in next month's three-Test series.

But for the moment, just getting in the squad is cause for celebration.

"It's always nice to see (chief selector) John Inverarity's name come up on your phone," Bird said.

"I've worked pretty hard in the last six months to get back to where I was 12 months ago.

"To get that call, it's pretty exciting.

Bird acknowledged that it would be tough getting into the side after the impressive bowling display through the summer.

"But there's three back-to-back Test matches basically so anything can happen if you're a fast bowler," he said.

"Injuries are pretty common. Hopefully no one goes down."

The Melbourne Stars are on top of the BBL table heading into next month's semi-finals and are title favourites.
"It's a bit bitter-sweet. It would have been good to hang around and hopefully win the BBL with the Stars," the 27-year-old said.

"But if I was going on a Test tour, it's a pretty good substitute."

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