Bird return impresses selectors

MELBOURNE - Jackson Bird's four- over cricket comeback last Friday night had a Test match feel for Australian bowling coach Craig McDermott.

While Bird will play no part in this Ashes series, the paceman wants to be in contention for next year's South African tour and McDermott agrees it is a feasible goal.

Australia's Ashes domination has given it the luxury to plan ahead without any pressure.

It is in stark contrast to England, which lurches from crisis to controversy, and means it can ease players such as Bird back into the national program.

Bird's outstanding 4-31 for the Melbourne Stars in their BBL win over the Renegades was an important milestone.

Apart from some local club and warm-up games, he had not played since injuring his back during the Ashes tour earlier this year.

"Jackson bowled very well ... good lines, good lengths," McDermott said.

"It just goes to prove you don't have to have a truckload of change-ups to play well in Twenty20 cricket.

"He bowled Test-match lengths and lines the other night and he came out on top."

In further good news for Bird, McDermott made it clear that the selectors are paying the paceman close attention.

"I'm sure there's half a dozen blokes who are keen to go to South Africa," McDermott said.

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