Bird, Sayers to join Test squad in NZ

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Pacemen Jackson Bird and Chadd Sayers have been included in a 14-man squad for Australia's two-Test tour of New Zealand next month.

The Tests will be played in Wellington (12 – 16 February) and Christchurch (20 – 24 February).

Australian Test squad

STEVE SMITH (C) NSW
DAVID WARNER (VC) NSW
JACKSON BIRD TAS
JOE BURNS QLD
JOSH HAZLEWOOD NSW
USMAN KHAWAJA QLD
NATHAN LYON NSW
MITCHELL MARSH WA
SHAUN MARSH WA
PETER NEVILL NSW
JAMES PATTINSON VIC
CHADD SAYERS SA
PETER SIDDLE VIC
ADAM VOGES WA

Commenting on the selections, National Selector Rod Marsh said: “We are delighted to welcome Chadd Sayers into the squad for the first time and his inclusion is thoroughly deserved.

“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.

“We are hopeful James Pattinson will be able to overcome the shin soreness he has been suffering with and continue the fine form he showed in this summer’s Tests when he bowled at good pace, while Peter Siddle is on the verge of playing again following the ankle injury he suffered during the West Indies series.

“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.

“On that basis it is an exciting time for Australian cricket.

“The batting line-up for the tour picks itself with all of the top order having produced excellent results during this summer’s Commonwealth Bank Test series against New Zealand and the West Indies.

“We know that New Zealand is going to come hard at us, that their players will want some form of pay-back for the Test series loss suffered in the series we played in this country late last year and that they will want to give captain Brendon McCullum a send-off into international retirement with a series win against their near-neighbours.

“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.”

The squad for the three One-Day Internationals to be played at the start of the tour, in Auckland (3 February), Wellington (6 February) and Hamilton (8 February) will be announced in due course.