Hampshire weigh up Bird replacement options

Australian Jackson Bird, second from right, claims the wicket of Alistair Cook during a One Day Interantional against England in Durham in 2013

Australian Jackson Bird, second from right, claims the wicket of Alistair Cook during a One Day Interantional against England in Durham in 2013

Nic McMurray

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Hampshire are exploring contingency plans as the worries over Jackson Bird’s fitness increase.

Their overseas signing has been unable to get on the pitch for the first two games with a shoulder problem and has been ruled out again for their next clash at home to Nottinghamshire, which starts tomorrow.

We are making a few plans at the back of our minds, but ideally we would like Jackson to be alright

Dale Benkenstein

But the club are still attempting to solve the mystery behind the Australian seamer’s absence and are now considering possible replacements.

First-team coach Dale Benkenstein said: ‘I’m not a physio, but he has been treated for one thing and it doesn’t seem to be getting better.

‘They are having to do more checks on whether it might be something else.

‘Hopefully, we will find out in the next few days what is going on.

‘It’s really frustrating for Jackson. He’s a top man and is dying to get on the field but he is just not able to do that at the moment.

‘We don’t know when he will be available as yet.

‘We are making a few plans at the back of our minds, but ideally we would like Jackson to be alright.

‘So we are already thinking about possible replacements.’

Two players who are already contracted to play at the club this season would appear to be the most logical replacements to fill in as a short-term solution.

Yasir Arafat and Fidel Edwards are both lined up for spells later in the summer but could yet answer the call if they are required.

Benkenstein said: ‘We have Yasir Arafat signed up for one-day cricket so we are sounding him out on whether he would be available.

‘Fidel Edwards is signed up for August and he is sitting around doing nothing at the moment.

‘They are guys that we have already signed but they may be able to help, although probably not for this game.

‘Both of those guys are experienced strike bowlers but if it’s longer term, we’ve got to look at who else is out there.

‘At the moment, we’re hoping Jackson will be fit so we will have to wait and see.’

While Benkenstein has been pleased with the efforts from his bowlers so far, Hampshire might have claimed a victory at Warwickshire earlier this week with another source of wickets in the attack.

He said: ‘We have been missing a strike bowler.

‘It was nice to have Andre Adams fit and he made a big difference to us.

‘But other teams are putting out their best sides and we haven’t quite been able to do that yet.

‘We’ve got to use what we’ve got and make the most of what we have.

‘In the two games, I think we have done that.

‘Batting-wise, perhaps we could have done better in the first innings.

‘But from a bowling perspective, I think the effort, skill level and discipline has been outstanding.

‘We’ve had a defeat and a good draw but in both games, we could have had the win so that is really positive.’

Chris Wood and Brad Wheal will come into the reckoning but Benkenstein expects to field an unchanged side.

He said: ‘I was very happy with the way we played and would love to have got a win, but it didn’t quite happen.

‘Now we will be looking for one against Notts.’

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