Home town hero Johnson looks to push T20 World Cup claims

Left-arm quick Spencer Johnson can't wait to represent Australia in front of a home crowd for the first time

Having been told he'll make his first international appearance in Australia against West Indies at Adelaide Oval tomorrow evening, Spencer Johnson is expecting a vastly different experience to his most recent outing which also came on his home patch.

Johnson was a late call-up for the current Dettol T20I Series after fellow fast bowler Nathan Ellis failed to recover from a rib injury, and will tomorrow play his first top-level game since starring for Brisbane Heat in their BBL final triumph over Sydney Sixers more than a fortnight ago.

Johnson makes his mark on Final with four-wicket haul

But the 28-year-old did sneak in an extra appearance during that time, surprisingly turning out for his Adelaide Premier Cricket outfit West Torrens in the local Twenty20 Cup grand final against Glenelg at Adelaide Oval just four days after the BBL finale.

As Johnson tells it, that game – won by his team after he took a wicket from the first ball he bowled, and also executed a run out in his opening over – was played in front of "around 500" spectators in the 50,000 capacity stadium.

The left-armer is anticipating almost as many family and friends to attend tomorrow evening's clash against West Indies which will mark his first outing for Australia on home soil after playing two T20Is in South Africa earlier this year as well as making his ODI debut in India last September.

"It's obviously going to be a proud moment for my family and my friends, to have them in the crowd," said Johnson, who was informed by national selection panel chair George Bailey last night he would be in the starting XI for tomorrow's fixture.

"There will be a few, probably 40 or 50 (family and friends) I reckon.

"I've tucked them away in a (corporate) box away from everyone else, but it's going to be a proud moment for them and I'm looking forward to it."

"To play for Australia in Australia is something you dream about in the backyard, so to do it is going to be quite cool.

"And Adelaide Oval is the best stadium in the world, so I'm looking forward to it."

In the wake of his BBL finals series, where he claimed nine wickets for just 60 runs in three matches as Brisbane stormed to the title, former Australia captain Ricky Ponting called on selectors to add him to the national men's limited-overs set-up "straight away".

Despite not being included in the squads for the preceding Dettol ODI Series or the current T20I campaign, Johnson was added as a standby player with injury concerns over Ellis who has also been included ahead of Johnson for the T20I tour to New Zealand later this month.

But Johnson believes strong performances in the remaining games against West Indies at Adelaide and Perth (next Tuesday), as well as in his maiden appearance at the Indian Premier League starting in May, he can push his claims for the ICC T20 World Cup in the Caribbean and USA next June.

"It would be nice to have a couple of performances for Australia, but the World Cup is still a long while away," he said today.

"And if I have a good IPL then there's every chance I could be in that World Cup squad.

"I think what I did in the Big Bash is hopefully going to be good enough.

"I can use the confidence from that finals series to go in and hopefully perform tomorrow night, and if I get the opportunity at Optus (Stadium in Perth) to perform there as well.

"I'm looking forward to the challenge, and I've got some confidence going into the game definitely."

Johnson receives ODI cap No.243 from fellow leftie Starc

Troubled by hamstring issues at the start of the current domestic season, Johnson has not turned out for South Australia in either the Marsh Sheffield Shield or Marsh One Day Cup competitions this summer, with his most recent first-class game coming for Australia A in New Zealand last April.

But the powerful quick revealed he has been building his bowling loads in the wake of the BBL campaign with an eye to playing for SA in their next Shield encounter, against bottom-of-the-table Queensland at Karen Rolton Oval starting next Friday.

The fact he has played more international four-day and one-day cricket than at domestic level over the past 10 months only underscores his remarkable rise to prominence having been dogged by a spate of serious injuries early in his career.

After making his SA debut in the domestic one-day format in 2017, Johnson was forced to wait a further five years before earning his baggy red cap at Shield level and was without a senior contract come the end of the 2021-22 summer.

But less than 12 months after his maiden Shield outing, he was pivotal in the Heat's BBL success, landed his first IPL contract (with Gujarat Titans for $1.78m) and is on the cusp of becoming part of Australia's white-ball plans ahead of the T20 World Cup and the subsequent ICC Champions Trophy ODI tournament.

"It's a pinch yourself moment," he said today.

"I'm just taking it in my stride, but when you sit back and think about it it's pretty ridiculous.

"I'm here now and just keep going.

"I'm a different player now (to) when I played (for Australia) last year in September.

"I had a bit more success in the Big Bash and definitely ready to go."

Every ball from unplayable Johnson's record-breaking spell

After watching last night's bat-dominated Dettol Series opener at Hobart, where Australia eventually triumphed by 11 runs, Johnson is also acutely aware of the threat posed by the West Indies blazing batters.

He saw fellow left-armer Jason Behrendorff, recently crowned Australia's Men's T20I Player of the Year at the Australian Cricket Awards, belted for 16 runs from the opening over of West Indies' pursuit of their daunting victory target of 214.

Utilised mainly as a first-change bowler and at the 'death' by the Heat, Johnson will rely on his hometown knowledge of Adelaide Oval as well as the variations he's developed during his recent T20 ascent to try and quell the likes of WI openers Brandon King and Johnson Charles, as well as power hitters Nicholas Pooran, Andre Russell and Jason Holder.

"The West Indies, that's their format the T20s," Johnson said.

"As you saw last night, they came out all guns blazing so we know how good they are and we're excited for the challenge."

Men's Dettol T20I Series v West Indies

February 9: Australia win by 11 runs

February 11: Adelaide Oval, 7pm AEDT

February 13: Perth Stadium, 7pm AEDT

Australia T20I squad: Mitchell Marsh (c), Sean Abbott, Jason Behrendorff, Tim David, Aaron Hardie, Josh Hazlewood, Josh Inglis, Spencer Johnson, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa

West Indies T20I squad: Rovman Powell (c), Shai Hope, Johnson Charles, Roston Chase, Jason Holder, Akeal Hosein, Alzarri Joseph, Brandon King, Kyle Mayers, Gudakesh Motie, Nicholas Pooran, Andre Russell, Sherfane Rutherford, Romario Shepherd, Oshane Thomas