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Australia include rookie pacers Sayers, Bird for New Zealand Tests

The duo replace Steve O'Keefe and Scott Boland in a pace attack that has some injury doubts ahead of the first Test in Wellington on Feb. 12, with James Pattinson (shin) and Peter Siddle (ankle) both carrying lingering ailments.

January 20, 2016, 9:37 AM IST
Australia include rookie pacers Sayers, Bird for New Zealand Tests

Australia played to the conditions on Wednesday by selecting the novice swing bowling duo of Chadd Sayers and Jackson Bird in their squad for the two-match Test series in New Zealand.

Bird, who played the last of his three Tests in England in 2013, and uncapped Sayers are part of a 14-man squad that will be aiming for a series win across the Tasman Sea next month to take them back to the top of the world Test rankings.

Sayers claimed 145 wickets at an average of 24.82 in the Sheffield Shield this season and his ability to move the ball could be a key factor in matches in Wellington and Christchurch, which are expected to be played on grassy, seaming pitches.

"We are delighted to welcome Chadd Sayers into the squad for the first time and his inclusion is thoroughly deserved," national selector Rod Marsh said in a statement.

"Both he and Jackson Bird can swing the ball and operate at a lively pace and we believe both will be well suited to the conditions we are likely to encounter in New Zealand."

The duo replace Steve O'Keefe and Scott Boland in a pace attack that has some injury doubts ahead of the first Test in Wellington on Feb. 12, with James Pattinson (shin) and Peter Siddle (ankle) both carrying lingering ailments.

"We are hopeful James Pattinson will be able to overcome the shin soreness he has been suffering..., while Peter Siddle is on the verge of playing again following the ankle injury he suffered during the West Indies series," Marsh added.

"Our fast bowling depth is certainly being tested because of injury and retirement but the positive part of that is it means there are opportunities for other players to stand up in domestic cricket and stake their claims."

There were no changes to the batting contingent which performed strongly against a feeble West Indies attack in the recent 2-0 home series win. That victory, coupled with South Africa's home series loss to England, sets up Australia's bid to become No.1 again.

"The fact that we can move back to the top of the ICC Rankings if we win the series is an added incentive for us but the players will be hungry to do well and we are anticipating a tough but also, hopefully, a successful series," Marsh said.

Squad: Steve Smith (capt) David Warner (vice-capt), Joe Burns, Usman Khawaja, Adam Voges, Mitchell Marsh, Peter Nevill, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Jackson Bird, Shaun Marsh, Chadd Sayers.

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Cricketnext Staff | January 1, 1970, 5:30 AM IST

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