MELBOURNE -  Fast bowler Jackson Bird says talk about a tired Australian pace attack struggling to back up in the Boxing Day Test against Pakistan is just that - all talk.

Most of the speculation leading up to the second Test has been about how the Australians will recover from sending down a marathon 145 overs in the fourth innings in Brisbane, a load shouldered almost entirely by a four-man attack of Bird, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon. It has convinced selectors to call-up uncapped allrounder Hilton Cartwright and the Western Australian is a strong chance to make his debut in place of batsman Nic Maddinson, with captain Steve Smith keen to have a fifth bowling option in his side.

The benefits of a fifth bowler could also be felt long term as well, with the Australians loathe to push the likes of Starc and Hazlewood too hard for fear of them breaking down with a Test tour of India and the one-day Champions Trophy coming up in the next six months, as well as a potential series decider at the SCG in 10 days. Interim selection chairman Trevor Hohns was seen in conversation with coach and fellow selector Darren Lehmann as well as Smith in the middle of the MCG on Saturday, while he also had a quiet word to both Cartwright and Maddinson during nets practice.

And in a lighter but also frightening moment during Australia's main session this week, Hohns narrowly avoided serious injury when he negotiated a powerfully struck straight drive from Matthew Wade, a potentially career-limiting shot that travelled at head height and just missed a ducking Hohns, who quickly received an apology from the wicketkeeper-batsman some 40 metres away.

Captain Steve Smith could well confirm Australia's XI at his pre-match press conference tomorrow, with Cartwright in line to become Australia's 450th Test cricketer and the first Boxing Day debutant against Pakistan since Greg Matthews in 1983. While Bird agreed with the obvious sentiment that fielding an allrounder in the side would lighten the workload on the main bowlers, he was confident that the four-man attack that has steered Australia to back-to-back victories could complete the series win in Melbourne.

"It probably would take a bit of the workload off us if we did have Hilton as a fifth bowling option, but I think us three quicks and Nathan Lyon have been doing a good job," Bird said. "We've won the last two Test matches and I'm not sure why they'd change that. But that's completely up to the selectors."

While Cartwright would provide valuable support with the ball should he debut, his career record explains why he's regarded primarily as batting allrounder. The right-hander averages more than 50 from his past 10 Sheffield Shield matches and also posted a first-class century for Australia A against India A earlier this year.

That he bowls steady medium pace is simply an added bonus, and the fact that he averages about one wicket per match at more than 40 each underlines his status as batsman who bowls. Bird and his fellow Brisbane pacemen Starc and Hazlewood had their first and only bowl before the second Test in Melbourne today, while Chadd Sayers - 12th man in the past two Tests - also sent down some overs in the nets. The Tasmania swing bowler said he'd recovered well from sending down a total of 45 overs at the Gabba and was in no doubt that the three-man pace attack could shoulder a similar workload at the MCG, if required.

"Absolutely (we can)," he said. "Mitch and Josh have been doing this for a while now and I've been bowling consistently in Shield cricket for a while. I think I've been averaging 45 overs a game or so in the last 12 months so it's no real difference for me. Because I'm the third seamer, I probably don't bowl as much as the other two do. I fully expect us all to get through if we have the same workload. It's our job to bowl a lot of overs and do the hard work. It's what we're paid to do as professional cricketers and especially as fast bowlers. That's part of the game as well, how well you can back up as a fast bowler. That's why we do all the hard work with fitness and weights. I think things can sometimes get blown out of proportion a little bit. It's part and parcel of being a fast bowler."