Sydney, March 26(IANS) - Australia captain Michael Clarke won the toss and opted to bat…
Fast bowler Jackson Bird will play his first test since 2013 for Australia in the series opener starting on Friday, when New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum will be lining up for his 100th consecutive test match.
Bird was recalled when James Pattinson was ruled out Thursday because of a shin shoreness. He joins Josh Hazlewood and Peter Siddle in Australia’s pace attack for the match which will begin on a green pitch on which both captains have said they will bowl if they win the toss.
Bird played two tests against Sri Lanka and one against England in 2013, taking 13 wickets at an average of 23. He was dropped after the England test, which was the fourth test of that year’s Ashes series, and only now regains his place as Australia contends with injuries and retirements.
Pattinson was pulled out of a domestic first-class match for Victoria state to travel to Wellington and prepare for the first match in a two-test series. He will remain with the Australian squad in the hope of being fit for next week’s second test at Christchurch.
“The selectors aren’t 100 per cent sure whether (Pattinson) would get through this first test match so that decision was made,” Australia captain Steve Smith said. “I think Jackson Bird has been bowling extremely well.
“I’m really happy with the XI we’ve picked.”
Smith said Bird had performed well at domestic level and “it’s great that he gets another opportunity,” in the test arena.
“He’s swinging the ball and swinging it late which is a great attribute to have and if he gets the ball in the right areas in this test match I think he can do a bit of damage,” Smith said.
The bright-green colouring of the pitch at the Basin Reserve suprised Smith and some of the Australian batsmen when they first inspected it Wednesday.
Warner said he expected a lot of ball movement through the air but not off the wicket, and thought New Zealand swing bowlers Tim Southee and Trent Boult could “be a challenge for us guys at the top of the order.”
The pitch might be slightly less green than the one on which New Zealand played Sri Lanka last year when 13 wickets fell on the first day.
New Zealand went on to win that match by 193 runs to fill out its recent extended record of success in home test matches. The Basin Reserve has a tradition of favouring batsmen and it was on the Wellington ground two years ago that McCullum became the first New Zealand batsman to score a test triple century.
New Zealand last played Australia in Wellington in 2010, losing by 10 wickets.
Southee will return to the New Zealand line-up for his first match since December 31 when he injured his foot. Boult sat out an optional training session on Wednesday but is expected to have recovered from the illness that prevented him playing in the series-clinching third limited-overs international against Australia.
Wicketkeeper B.J. Watling is troubled by a back injury but was expected to be fit. Allrounder Corey Anderson is expected to return to the New Zealand lineup, batting at No. 6 in place of the injured Mitchell Santner, while Mark Craig will provide a spin option.
Australia Joe Burns, David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith (captain), Adam Voges, Mitch Marsh, Peter Nevill, Peter Siddle, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Jackson Bird.
New Zealand (from) Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Kane Williamson, Henry Nicholls, Brendon McCullum (captain), Corey Anderson, B.J.
Keywords: Australia tour of New Zealand, New Zealand versus Australia Test series, New Zealand versus Australia first Test