Johnson's warning for Australia's pace aces

The tearaway says Australia's fast-bowling spearheads are in danger of being overworked due to a packed schedule

Former Test speedster Mitchell Johnson has warned Australia's pace spearheads Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood they risk suffering burnout as a result of the crowded international calendar.

With Starc and Hazlewood having established themselves as Australia's first-choice fast-bowlers in all three formats, Johnson says the duo need to be carefully managed.

Ahead of a busy home summer, both quicks were rested for the one-day international tour of South Africa in October, forcing Australia to field an inexperienced bowling attack and they slumped to 0-5 series whitewash. 

And while Johnson believes other all-format players for Australia are also struggling with the busy schedule, the 35-year-old understands the desire of his former national teammates to play every game.

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"There's a lot of cricket going on and there's a lot of burnout," Johnson, who called time on his international career last summer, told Talk Sport's Cricket Week podcast.

"I can see it with the Australian quicks now, looking at Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazelwood. 

"They had a little bit of a break before the summer started, they missed out (on playing) in South Africa. That (tour) was a disaster for Australia.

"I can see the amount of overs that they are bowling, I can see with body language with certain guys, it will catch up with them. 

"It's very difficult and where do you draw the line? 

"It is very difficult for a lot of the cricketers. You just have to manage yourself the best you can because you want to play every game."

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Since Hazlewood made his Test debut in December 2014, no fast-bowler has bowled more than his 1216.5 overs in international cricket across all three formats.

Over the same time period, Starc has sent down 1061.3 overs in Tests, ODIs and T20Is, the third-highest tally among seamers, even having missed a large chunk of the 2015-16 season due to injury.

The relentless nature of the international cricket schedule has been laid bare this week with two separate Australia teams selected for two different upcoming series. 

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With Australia's Test squad busy preparing for their four-Test Qantas Tour of India, another 13-player squad has assembled in Melbourne ahead the three-match KFC T20 INTL series against Sri Lanka beginning Friday.

Had there been a larger gap between the two series, it's conceivable that both Starc and Hazlewood could have played in both.

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland conceded last week that the packed schedule isn't perfect, but said it could provide an opportunity to a player may not have otherwise gotten one.

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"There's nothing ideal about the schedule," he said.

"It evolves and unfolds from year to year - we have challenges with that.

"But at the same time ... a number of players are getting well-earned opportunities to represent their country and put their hand up.

"And who knows, in two or three years time when we host the World T20 here in Australia they may well be the players that are walking out for Australia."

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Johnson sympathises with the plight of current players, stressing he never wanted to miss out on the opportunity to play for Australia, especially in the longest format of the game.

"I know when I played I wanted to play all Test match cricket," said the left-armer, who has put his name in the mix for the upcoming Indian Premier League auction after a successful KFC Big Bash League with the Perth Scorchers.  

"There was talk (during my Test career) about maybe missing a Test match to get a bit of recovery, a bit of a break. 

"But I was never one of those guys who wanted to do that, I wanted to play Test match cricket, I wanted to wear my Baggy Green even if I was feeling a bit tired going into the game, that didn't bother me. 

"I knew I'd get up because it was for my country.

"It's very difficult … (but) with three formats now, it's even harder."

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Johnson believes there some merit in the idea, put forward by the likes of Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur, that T20 Internationals should only be played at the World T20.

"I heard one thing recently from Mickey Arthur that maybe international T20s, they should flick them and maybe just look at that as a World Cup," he said.

"Maybe just leave it to the clubs, the IPLs, the BBLs."

Most overs bowled by fast-bowlers in all international formats since 17 Dec 2014:

Josh Hazlewood (AUS) – 1295.1 overs

Trent Boult (NZ) – 1169 overs

Mitchell Starc (AUS) – 1061.3 overs

Tim Southee (NZ) – 1050.3 overs

Stuart Broad (ENG) – 1020.2 overs

Jimmy Anderson (ENG) – 871.1 overs

Wahab Riaz (PAK) – 848 overs