Sport

Johnson takes swipe at selectors over bowler rotation

Mitchell Johnson.
Mitchell Johnson. Wikimedia/RaeA

LEFT-ARM quick Mitchell Johnson has taken a subtle swipe at the national selectors, questioning their controversial fast-bowler rotation policy.

Fellow left-arm seamer Mitchell Starc is reported to be next in line to be rested from the Boxing Day Test against Sri Lanka at the MCG.

Tasmania's in-form Jackson Bird is apparently set to replace Starc and make his Australia debut, and there is no denying his form would warrant an opportunity.

The 26-year-old, originally from Sydney, has taken 87 first-class wickets at a remarkable 19.72 in 17 matches.

But Starc would have every right to feel disappointed if he was left out after snaring 5-63 in Sri Lanka's second innings, helping the Aussies win the first Test in Hobart by 137 runs.

The 22-year-old bowled a total of 52.2 overs in what was his second straight game, an effort which is now regarded as a heavy workload by Cricket Australia's team performance unit.

Ben Hilfenhaus suffered a side strain in that same match, taking Australia's injured list of fast bowlers to seven.

Johnson is set to come in as his replacement, but the West Australian quick said the national selectors should not show too much caution.

"If you're fit to play, you should be playing, and your best 11 should be playing," Johnson said.

"It's obviously a hard one, but as a bowler, personally I don't want to rest in a Test match.

"Test matches are the pinnacle, especially a Boxing Day Test. You don't want to rest if you don't need to rest."

Starc is of the same opinion, saying after arriving at Melbourne Airport on Saturday that he would never put his hand up for a rest.

Meanwhile, Australian skipper Michael Clarke was yesterday rated only a 50/50 chance to play by the chairman of selectors, John Inverarity.Clarke injured his hamstring while batting in the first Test against Sri Lanka.

Inverarity talked up the MCG wicket as being a very good one to bat on, with the Australians confident they would be able to handle the spin of Rangana Herath who took 5-95 in the second innings in Hobart.

"He got five wickets, but went for a few runs," Australian opening batsman Ed Cowan said.

"A lot of his wickets were guys chasing runs quickly in that second innings.

"He's a world-class bowler - I think he's second on the list for wicket-takers in the year, but we saw last year against (Indian spinner) Ravi Ashwin he looked pretty ineffective against some of our batters."

Topics:  bowling, mitchell johnson



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