Jackson Bird has been confirmed as Australia’s third seamer for the third Test against the Proteas in Adelaide, meaning Australia will field three debutants.
Bird, pictured above, was preferred to Chadd Sayers, but the selectors opted against an all-out pace attack for a match to be played on a green Adelaide Oval pitch and under lights on Thursday.
The three new caps are Queensland’s Matthew Renshaw, Victorian Peter Handscomb and the Blues Nic Maddinson. Not since 2011, when David Warner, Mitchell Starc and James Pattinson all received their Baggy Greens, has Australia blooded so many debutants in a Test.
Bird, 29, has taken 11 wickets at 22.73 in two twilight Sheffield Shield matches, and that form with the pink ball has won him selection over local lad Sayers.
To counter the seam attack, though, the Adelaide wicket is to be trimmed down in an effort to avoid a repeat of the three-day affair between Australia and New Zealand last summer.
It was kept long on that occasion to protect the pink ball, which is not as hardy as a traditional red cherry, but Australia’s captain Steven Smith and his New Zealand counterpart Brendon McCullum believed the ball would be no worse off for more extensive use of the lawn mower.
What would change, though, was the amount of seam movement on offer to the bowlers.
Groundsman Damian Hough said: ‘We’re bringing the starting height down and the finished height will be down another 2mm from last year.
‘In review of last year, which was a good learning experience, leaving the grass on it assisted the quicks a little bit more. We feel a couple millimetres less will hopefully still keep it a good contest between bat and ball, and that’s what we’re after.
The selection also confirms that Renshaw will be Warner’s third opening partner of the series. Warner, at 30 will be the oldest player on the field and Renshaw, at 20, the youngest.
Australia XI: David Warner, Matthew Renshaw, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith (c), Peter Handscomb, Nic Maddinson, Matthew Wade (wk), Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Jackson Bird.
Photo: Paul Kane/Getty Images
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