Australia dropped fast bowler Mitchell Johnson, the International Cricket Council’s Player of the Year in 2009, for the second Ashes Test against England.
Johnson, who finished the drawn first Test in Brisbane with figures of 0-170, was told yesterday that he wouldn’t be playing at the Adelaide Oval, Australia captain Ricky Ponting said. Doug Bollinger and Ryan Harris are vying for a place in the final 11, which will be decided before play begins tomorrow, he said.
It’s the first time since making his debut against Sri Lanka in November 2007 that left-hander Johnson, 29, has been left out of Australia’s Test team. He also dropped a catch and failed to score a run off 19 balls in Brisbane.
“The selectors felt that he’s just down on a bit of form and down on a bit of rhythm,” Ponting said at a news conference. “Test match cricket is hard enough as it is without having to try and find those types of things in the middle of a match.”
Australian selectors called Bollinger and Harris into a 13-man squad immediately after the series opener at the Gabba, where England amassed a record 517-1 declared in its second innings to secure a draw after trailing by 221 runs.
“I didn’t get wickets and didn’t perform in that Test,” Johnson told reporters today. “I’m a strike bowler for Australia and I need to be getting wickets.”
Johnson will stay with the squad and work with bowling coach Troy Cooley, Australia coach Tim Nielsen said. He may be given the chance to play for his Western Australia state team before the third Test in Perth, which starts Dec. 16.
“Out there on the Oval in the middle of a game was no place to try and fix any issues that you’ve got with your technique or your form,” Nielsen said. “You want to be going into every game you can as positive as you can.”
Johnson said getting away from the “hype” of cricket’s oldest international rivalry may help him regain the form that yielded 166 wickets at an average of 30.08 runs in his first 39 Tests.
“Mentally I feel fine,” Johnson said. “I just need to keep working on my bowling and make sure I’m feeling strong with my bowling and getting everything together.”
England captain Andrew Strauss, who led his team to a 2-1 Ashes series win in the U.K. last year, said Johnson had been a good performer for Australia as the Test bowling spearhead.
“It’s quite a big call for them to leave him out,” Strauss told reporters. “We’ve got to be ready for whoever might take his place and make sure that we’ve got plans in place to counteract them.”
England will name its team on the morning of the game and selectors were “generally happy with the majority of the performances at Brisbane,” Strauss said, adding that every player is fit and available.
AUSTRALIA SQUAD: Ricky Ponting (captain), Michael Clarke, Simon Katich, Shane Watson, Mike Hussey, Marcus North, Brad Haddin, Xavier Doherty, Peter Siddle, Ryan Harris, Ben Hilfenhaus, Doug Bollinger.
ENGLAND SQUAD: Andrew Strauss (captain), Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, Ian Bell, Matt Prior, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Steve Finn, Tim Bresnan, Steve Davies, Eoin Morgan, Monty Panesar, Chris Tremlett.