Australian representatives Jackson Bird and Ben McDermott are returning home after lengthy stints in Tasmania, signing for New South Wales and Queensland respectively ahead of the 2023/24 season.
On Thursday morning, Cricket NSW confirmed that Bird, who was born and raised in Sydney, had penned a two-year deal with the Blues to bolster the state’s bowling stocks after a disappointing summer.
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The 36-year-old, who played nine Tests for Australia between 2012 and 2017, will effectively replace Blues veteran Trent Copeland, who retired from professional cricket earlier this year.
“At this stage of my career Cricket NSW has offered me an awesome opportunity to be able to come home to Sydney and the Northern Beaches with my family,” Bird said in a statement.
“I played all my junior cricket in NSW and like any other aspiring professional in the state I wanted to pull on a Baggy Blue.
“My career took a different path and I am very grateful to Cricket Tasmania and everyone that I have played with and worked with down there for what has been an amazing experience, both professionally and personally.
“Now it’s a fresh start in a place I am familiar with, and I am looking forward to being able to contribute on the field and also around the playing group. The Blues have some very talented young bowlers and I hope I can offer them some guidance if they need it.”
Bird, who made his first-class debut for Tasmania in 2011, is the Tigers’ leading wicket-taker in Sheffield Shield history with 350 scalps at 21.99. No cricketer has taken more Sheffield Shield wickets at a lower average than the veteran right-armer.
He has also represented the Sydney Sixers in 45 Big Bash League matches since 2015, taking 34 wickets at 32.82 for the men in magenta.
“Jackson’s on-field record speaks for itself. He has played Test cricket for Australia and has the most Shield wickets of anyone still playing the game,” CNSW Chief of Cricket Performance Greg Mail said in a statement.
“He is also a student of the game and has captained teams in first-class matches.
“We are delighted to be able to bring him home and look forward to his contribution to Cricket in NSW.”
Meanwhile, McDermott has signed a three-year deal with Queensland, where he made his first-class debut back in 2014.
The 28-year-old, who has represented Australia in five ODIs and 23 T20Is, migrated to Tasmania on a rookie deal in 2015, scoring 1374 List A runs at 45.80 across eight seasons, including four centuries.
“We’re very happy Ben has chosen to come back to Queensland and look forward to him joining with the coaching staff and rest of the Bulls squad once pre-season gets underway,’’ Queensland Cricket’s General Manager of High Performance Bennett King said in a statement.
“He’s got a young family and I’m sure they will be pleased to be a little closer to family and friends in Queensland once they get settled.
“We’re very keen to work with Ben to help him realise his playing goals and no doubt his experience and skills will be welcomed by the playing group. He’s a seasoned player who has performed in all formats for Tasmania and Australia, and so it will be exciting to see him progress in the future.”
McDermott pushed his World Cup case with a maiden ODI century against Pakistan last year, but Travis Head has since cemented his spot at the top of the order in Australia’s 50-over side.
“To play Test cricket is still the pinnacle in my opinion,” McDermott told cricket.com.au this week.
“I’ll keep chasing that and whenever I feel like it’s time, there’s always (T20 leagues) to fall back on, there’s league popping up everywhere.
“But right now, I’m fully focused on playing both formats for Queensland, I feel like one-day cricket is still my best format.”
CODE Sports reports that Sam Heazlett, who made his international debut in 2017 aged 21, has been axed from the Queensland contract list, which will be unveiled on Friday.
Earlier this week, Cricket Tasmania announced it had signed Redbacks opener Jake Weatherald and Hobart Hurricanes spinner Patrick Dooley ahead of the 2023/24 season.
Elsewhere, South Australian quick Jordan Buckingham, who turned heads during the recent Australia A tour of New Zealand, has committed to the Redbacks on a three-year deal, while Victorian young gun Jake Fraser-McGurk is also reportedly set to sign for South Australia.