Australia's World T20 campaign has suffered a blow with Mitchell Johnson ruled out of the tournament. The mustachioed left-arm spearhead has been replaced in Australia's World Cup squad by NSW bowler Doug Bollinger.
Johnson had been suffering an infection in a toe after receiving a cut during the third Test against South Africa in Cape Town. The Australian team had been hoping Johnson would respond quickly to antibiotics treatment and link up with the team in Bangladesh later this week. However, the infection has been deemed serious enough that he will remain in Perth to heal.
CA Chief Medical Officer Dr Justin Paoloni said: “Mitchell had a cut on his right big toe after the 3rd Test against South Africa which became infected when he returned home to Australia after the series. We have given Mitchell as long as we can but unfortunately his infection hasn’t responded to the treatment as quickly as we had hoped with swelling remaining in his toe and foot.
“It is difficult to say how quickly the infection will take to resolve and due to the high risk of infection recurrence with a return to bowling we feel it is in the best interests of Mitchell's health for him to continue to receive intensive treatment in Perth.”
Chairman of the National Selection Panel John Inverarity said it was disappointing to have to leave out Johnson. “It was anticipated that Mitch would have a significant impact with his pace and menace," said Inverarity.
“Doug Bollinger has been called into the squad to replace Mitchell. Doug has had significant experience in the sub-continent and in international white-ball cricket and his ability to bowl with good pace was a factor in his selection.”
Bollinger's call-up is a blow to the NSW Blues, who will now be without the quick for the Bupa Sheffield Shield final in Canberra against the Alcohol Think Again Western Warriors from Friday.
In this season's KFC T20 Big Bash League, playing for runners-up the Hobart Hurricanes, Bollinger took six wickets at an average of 44.66 and an economy rate of 7.65.
He has played just two T20 internationals, in South Africa in 2011, taking one wicket in each match. In four ODIs in Asia, all in India, he has best figures of 5-35 and an average of 19.33.
His Shield return of 31 wickets at 24.09 saw him drafted in Australia's Test squad during the Ashes series as cover for Johnson and Ryan Harris, but was not needed as the 'Unchangeables' completed a five-nil whitewash.
Coach Darren Lehmann had foreshadowed Johnson's replacement after Australia's T20 series win against South Africa in Centurion on Friday night. “He's still not great so we'll make a decision in the next couple of days,” Lehmann said.
“If he's not healthy enough to travel, he won’t travel. The medicos are all over that back home and here so we'll have to wait a couple of days to see how he responds to antibiotics and all that.
“Health is a bit more important than a game of cricket so, if we have to cover him, we'll cover him.
Up until recently, Johnson’s arrival in Bangladesh was expected to merely be delayed, the Australian side hoping he can put the finishing touches on what has been an all-conquering summer for the left-arm quick.
When questioned earlier in the week, Cricket Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, Associate Professor Justin Paoloni, had this to say about the injury.
"Mitch has been home in Perth recovering from the Test series against South Africa but has developed an infection as a result of a cut he had on his right big toe after the 3rd Test,” Paoloni said.
“He is receiving treatment but his departure to Bangladesh for the ICC World T20 may be delayed until we are happy that the infection has resolved and his toe fully recovered.”