(Photo: Action Images)
By Harvey Burgess
Jackson Bird has been left out of the Australia Test squad to face South Africa as the selectors voiced their concerns over his batting ability.
The pace bowler’s last Test came in February, when he took five wickets, however it is Australia’s lack of depth to their batting that has cost him this time round.
27-year-old Joe Mennie takes his place in the squad for the very first time, having played in the ODI series against the same opposition.
In the batting department, Mennie averages 10 runs more than Bird in first-class cricket and has five half-centuries to his name. However the younger right-armer performed poorly with the ball in hand in the ODIs as Australia suffered a humiliating 5-0 defeat.
Australia lost their previous Test series 3-0 to Sri Lanka in August and were particularly vulnerable to lower-order collapses, a problem they are clearly trying to rectify with Mennie’s inclusion.
Chairman of selectors Rod Marsh said: “We’ve got to get runs at the bottom of the order.”
“I talked to Jackson again this morning and I said the thing that probably cost him a place was his batting,” he added.
The decision has provoked criticism in Australia, where cricket fans have been bemused that poor batting can cost a bowler his place in the team. Glenn McGrath can consider himself lucky he retired long ago.
Australia Test squad: Steve Smith (capt), David Warner, Shaun Marsh, Usman Khawaja, Adam Voges, Mitchell Marsh, Peter Nevill (wk), Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle, Joe Mennie, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon.