Australia v South Africa: Jackson Bird left out of Test squad over batting concerns

Jackson Bird

Jackson Bird has taken 21 wickets in five Tests for Australia, at an average of 25.28

Australia have left bowler Jackson Bird out of their Test squad to host South Africa because of concerns over the batting strength of their tail.

Bird, 29, took a five-wicket haul in his last Test in February, but loses his place to debut call-up Joe Mennie.

Mennie, 27, struggled with the ball in his debut ODI series in South Africa, as Australia were whitewashed 5-0.

“We’ve got to get runs at the bottom of the order,” said selection chairman Rod Marsh.

“I talked to Jackson again this morning and I said the thing that probably cost him a place was his batting.”

Bird's batting average in first-class cricket is 8.97 with a high score of 32, compared to Mennie's 18.27, which includes five half-centuries.

Australia suffered a number of lower-order collapses during their 3-0 series loss in Sri Lanka in August.

Shaun Marsh is preferred to Joe Burns at the top of the order, after replacing him and scoring a century in the third Sri Lanka Test.

Bowlers Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc both return after missing the South Africa ODI series through injury.

The first Test begins on 3 November in Perth.

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.

Test schedule

3-7 1st Test, Perth (02:30 GMT)

12-16 2nd Test, Hobart (23:30 GMT, 11-15 Nov)

24-28 3rd Test, Adelaide (Adelaide Oval) (d/n) (03:30 GMT)

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