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Australia fast bowler Jackson Bird cleared for South Africa tour, Shaun Marsh ruled out

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SYDNEY - Fast bowler Jackson Bird overcame a back injury on Thursday and will fly to South Africa to join the Australia squad for the three-test series against the world's No. 1-ranked team.

Batsman Shaun Marsh was ruled out, though, with a calf problem and replaced by Phil Hughes.

Bird and Marsh were held back when other test team members left for South Africa on Wednesday. After back-to-back days of net bowling under the watch of Australia coach Darren Lehmann, Bird was cleared to tour and will fly on Friday alongside allrounder Moises Henriques.

Left-handed batsman Hughes was on standby for Marsh and will head to South Africa "as soon as possible," Cricket Australia said.

The first test at Centurion starts Feb. 12, the second is in Port Elizabeth from Feb. 20 and the third in Cape Town from March 1. The countries will also play three Twenty20 games.

The bulk of Australia's squad, including captain Michael Clarke, arrived in South Africa on Wednesday night and will head to Potchefstroom, west of Johannesburg, for a four-day warm-up match against a South African invitational team next week.

Australia is boosted by a 5-0 drubbing of England in the Ashes, which lifted the Aussies to No. 3 in the test rankings behind the South Africans and India.

South Africa is unbeaten in five years in test series, but its last loss was at home to Australia.

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