Northants bowler Jackson Bird has won a surprise recall to the Australia Test squad for their upcoming tour of South Africa.
Bird, the County’s main overseas signing for the 2014 season, hasn’t played for Australia since picking up a back injury in last summer’s Ashes series in England.
But the Tasmanian has regained his fitness, and has today been included in the 15-man squad for the South Africa series, which begins next month.
Bird hasn’t played first-class cricket since the Durham Test in August, but has been a star man in the Big Bash T20 competition for the Melbourne Stars.
The 27-year-old has taken 12 wickets in six matches, and although he failed to make an impression when bowling for the Australia President’s XI in their 50-over defeat to England last week, he has done enough to secure a Test recall.
“We believe this is a strong squad with sufficient flexibility for this great challenge of taking on the world’s top ranked Test team,” chief selector John Inverarity said.
“James Pattinson is regaining fitness and form. At his best he is a fine Test match bowler. Jackson Bird shaded out Nathan Coulter-Nile for the final bowling position and each of these bowlers is showing encouraging form.”
The first Test begins at Centurion on February 12, with the third and final Test finishing on March 5.
A three-match T20 series follows, with the final match on March 14.
Australia 15-man Test squad: Michael Clarke (c) (NSW), Brad Haddin (vc) (NSW), Jackson Bird (TAS), Alex Doolan (TAS), James Faulkner (TAS), Ryan Harris (QLD), Mitchell Johnson (WA), Shaun Marsh (WA), Nathan Lyon (NSW), James Pattinson (VIC), Chris Rogers (VIC), Peter Siddle (VIC), Steve Smith (NSW), David Warner (NSW), Shane Watson (NSW).