Aussie quick heading home
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Cricket Australia’s National Selection Panel has announced that Mitchell Johnson will return to Australia today and will not be taking part in the Twenty20 series against South Africa, scheduled to get underway this Sunday.
Allrounder, and Test series standby, Moises Henriques will stay on with the team as his replacement.
“Mitch has had a very long summer and we think he will benefit from returning home for a few days of rest with his family where he can freshen up,” coach Darren Lehmann said.
“He will link back up with the squad in Bangladesh ahead the ICC World Twenty20.”
With Johnson on his way home, it’s a good a time as any to reminisce on what has been an incredible summer for the big left-arm quick.
Across eight Test matches (five against England and three against South Africa) Johnson picked up a staggering 59 wickets at an average of 15.24.
Compare this to his career bowling average of 27, itself nothing to sneeze at, and you start to realise the gravity of the 32-year-old’s momentous run of form.
The feat is all the more remarkable when you consider his selection in the first Ashes Test in Brisbane was only ensured through injury and that, leading up, he took just the five wickets at 32 in his lone Bupa Sheffield Shield appearance.
Johnson went on to snare 37 English scalps at just under 14 across the five Test Ashes series, earning the Compton-Miller Medal as Man of the Series in the Commonwealth Bank Ashes and his own song when there was talk he might shave the furry slug off his top lip.
His 37 wickets is the second best return for an Australian bowler in a five Test Ashes series; three wickets behind Shane Warne’s 40 scalps in England more than eight years ago.
From there it was over to South Africa, where he helped Australia win their first Test series overseas since the tour of the West Indies in 2012.
The man with the magic mo’ collected 22 South African scalps across the three Tests at an average of 17.36, giving the Proteas a bevy of bumps and bruises in the process.
And it’s not just with the ball that Johnson has done his damage, the powerful lower-order bat averaging 23 with the willow since the first Test in Brisbane, finding himself fifth on the ICC’s Test allrounder rankings.
Johnson’s career was thought to be over after only playing one Test across the disastrous Tour of India in 2013 and missing out on a place in the touring Ashes squad.
But with time away from the game came a more aggressive approach to his cricket.
Johnson returned to the international scene in the limited overs series directly proceeding Australia’s 3-0 Ashes loss and immediately looked like a man reborn; troubling England’s seemingly unflappable top order with his pace and bounce.
That same mind-set was on show in the following ODI tour of India, where Johnson picked up seven wickets and looked a level above on the flat, batsman-friendly, wickets.
With this month’s T20 World Cup in Bangladesh just around the corner, Johnson will be looking to reacquaint himself with the coloured clothes format and the world’s best batsmen.
It’s possible that some of them won’t recognise him.
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia
First Posted 06 March, 2014 10:24PM AEST