Australia Omits Johnson, Sri Lanka’s Jayawardene to Step Down

Australia left out Mitchell Johnson and recalled fast bowlers Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus for the opening cricket Test against Sri Lanka starting tomorrow, whose captain Mahela Jayawardene will step down next month.

Mitchell Starc and spinner Nathan Lyon were the other specialist bowlers named for the first of three matches against the Sri Lankans, who failed to win any of their previous 10 Tests in Australia.

“It was a tough selection to leave Mitchell Johnson out, but it’s a nice problem to have when you’ve got 12 blokes who really want to play and have performed well,” Australia captain Michael Clarke said in a televised news conference.

Shane Watson will bat at No. 4 following the retirement of Ricky Ponting after last week’s Test series defeat to South Africa, with the recalled Phil Hughes taking the No. 3 spot in the order.

The teams are scheduled to play further Tests in Melbourne and Sydney before contesting a five-match one-day series and two Twenty20 internationals.

Jayawardene, who’s in his second stint as Sri Lanka captain, said today that he’ll quit the role at the end of the tour. He said he’ll continue to be available for selection in all three formats.

“I was going to wait until the end of the series but I thought I might as well do it now, having had a chat to the selectors,” Jayawardene, 35, told reporters in Hobart. “I hope I don’t get any more SOS calls from them later on. We need to move on to a younger leader.”

AUSTRALIA: David Warner, Ed Cowan, Phil Hughes, Shane Watson (vice-captain), Michael Clarke (captain), Mike Hussey, Matthew Wade, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, Ben Hilfenhaus, Nathan Lyon.

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