Hampshire's Jackson Bird pushing for Ashes spot - Benkenstein

Jackson Bird
Jackson Bird featured for Australia during the 2013 Ashes series in England

Hampshire first-team coach Dale Benkenstein says the incentive of Ashes selection was a key reason for signing Australian pace bowler Jackson Bird.

The 27-year-old made his Test debut for Australia in December 2012.

He is on the fringes of the squad for next year's Ashes series in England and Wales and Benkenstein says this will benefit recently-promoted Hampshire.

"I think he is world class and I'm sure he's pushing for an Ashes place," Benkenstein told BBC Radio Solent.

"It is a great place to be from our point of view. He has everything to gain and that completes the four-day line-up."

Jackson Bird
Made Test debut v Sri Lanka in December 2012
Took 2-58 and 0-67 against England at Chester-le-Street in 2013 Ashes
Took 53 Sheffield Shield wickets for Tasmania in 2011-12
Has a degree in business studies

Bird was due to play for Northants in 2014 but his contract was cancelled because of injury.

Benkenstein continued: "He's come back from a few injuries but there is a very good relationship between Hampshire and Cricket Australia.

"They were very keen for him to be out here and are confident he is back to his best but he does need some game time.

"I've watched him bowl in Australia and I think he'll be a real handful. He's perfectly suited to these conditions. He's class, has some real incentive and will be very motivated."

Benkenstein also believes the signing of Pakistan international Yasir Arafat will also improve Hampshire, specifically in limited-overs cricket, and revealed he could soon become a non-overseas player.

"He is a seasoned pro and comes over initially as an overseas player and white-ball specialist," added Benkenstein. "There is also an option he could also become English but we don't know when. That could help us in the future."

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