Jackson Bird has already booked his spot on the plane to England for next year’s Ashes series, according to former Test spinner Greg Matthews.
Bird impressed many, including Matthews, with his outstanding debut performance in the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.
While Bird’s match figures of 4-61 off 22 overs was a solid return in his first outing in the baggy green, it was his tight control that earned most plaudits.
“He only took four (wickets) but they were a big four. He got them early and he got them bowling a fantastic line and length,” Matthews told Fox Sports News.
“He got a wicket with a bouncer in the first innings which means he’s got enough heat to trouble batsmen.”
Matthews, who claimed 61 wickets in 33 Tests for Australia, likened the 26-year-old to Australian pace legend Glenn McGrath.
“His line and length remind me enormously of Glenn McGrath and his action reminds me of Simon Jones, the England swing bowler that won the Ashes in 2007 for England,” he said.
On Friday, Bird bowled 13 of the 22 overs bowled from the Great Southern Stand end. He picked up the first wicket to fall in each of the two sessions the visitors batted, but also choked their scoring, allowing Mitchell Johnson to capitalise on the pressure build with wickets at the other end.
It’s Bird’s ability to push into a breeze and tie down an end that Matthews predicts could see Ben Hilfenhaus stranded on 99 Test wickets for the remainder of his career.
“I hope not for Hilfy’s sake,” Matthews said. “He’s a super human being. He’s been a great workhorse, a big Clydesdale holding it together up into the wind.
“But this guy Bird; he’s already on that plane to England.
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“I got lucky the very first game Glenn McGrath played, I played with him. I was walking off the ground with him – he took 5-64 I think against Tasmania. I said to him, mate, I’m not going to play a lot with you, because you’re going to take 200 Test wickets.
“This guy Bird, he’ll take 200 Test wickets.”