Bird was the shock inclusion in Australia’s XI for the first Test against New Zealand that starts today, with selectors overlooking James Pattinson because of his lack of match fitness.
The 29-year-old earned his Test recall by swinging the red ball and taking 25 wickets for Tasmania in Sheffield Shield matches.
In the previous two seasons, Bird largely struggled to get on the park.
The paceman was forced to tweak his action because of recurring back trouble that started in 2013 and threatened to leave him stranded on three Tests.
“With a serious back injury like that, you have a long layoff and you have to start from scratch,” Tasmanian coach Dan Marsh said.
“You go through periods of obvious disappointment but, if you want to play for Australia again, you get over that pretty quickly… he’s done a lot of hard work and he’s bowling as well as he ever has. I don’t think he’ll let Australia down.”
Steve Smith is confident that is the case.
Faced with a green Wellington wicket and swing-friendly conditions, Smith insists he couldn’t be happier with a pace attack of Bird, Josh Hazlewood and Peter Siddle.
“Jackson Bird’s been bowling extremely well,” the skipper said.
“He’s been a quality bowler and always performed really well at Shield level.
“He’s bowling with quite good pace, hitting a good area and swinging the ball and swinging it late… if he gets the ball in the right areas in this Test match, I think he can do a bit of damage.”
Marsh agrees, suggesting the forgotten man of Australia’s pace stocks is smarter and more patient compared to 2013.
“He’s got a more-experienced head on his shoulders. We’ve got a young bowling group and he’s really stood up for us as a leader,” he said.
“He can work batters out a bit better.”
Australia’s bowling coach Craig McDermott, who hasn’t worked with Bird since a tour of South Africa in 2014, has been impressed with his work.
“He’s bowled well in the nets the last few days… he’s worked really hard and bowled well – that’s why he’s here,” McDermott said.
However, Bird had every right to fear his hopes of a national recall were over two months ago.
Selectors instead added Nathan Coulter-Nile and Scott Boland to the Test squad after a stack of injuries.
Marsh couldn’t have been more impressed with how he handled the news.
“Nothing changed from his point of view. To me, that says he’s got a pretty sensible head on his shoulders,” he said.
“He knew he was getting good success doing what he was doing, so he just had to keep doing it for longer.”
The tourists will reclaim the No.1 Test ranking if they win the two-Test series.
“That’s our goal as a side. I guess you sort of have to put it in the back of your mind and focus on each game as it comes,” Smith said.
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