Johnson cancels honeymoon to be with England

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The Independent Online

Richard Johnson has been drafted into England's Test squad for the Bangladesh leg of their winter tour as a replacement for the Lancashire pace bowler James Anderson, who withdrew last week with a knee injury.

The Somerset seamer, who won the man-of-the-match award on his Test debut against Zimbabwe in June with figures of 6 for 33, may not have been the selectors' first choice replacement but Anderson, and James Kirtley's misfortune - the Sussex paceman was originally nominated as England's stand-by but was ruled out with a shin injury - gives the 28-year-old an unexpected opportunity to reclaim his place in the England team.

Johnson's selection will give Nicola Lock, his fiancée, an early introduction to what life is like being married to an international cricketer. The pair are due to marry next Sunday, two days before England leave for Dhaka, and had just finished organising their honeymoon when Johnson received the news.

However, a trip to Mauritius has had to be scrapped and the couple hope to spend a couple of nights in London before the groom leaves for Bangladesh. In an attempt to help the situation, the England management have allowed him to travel a day after the Test squad leave on 7 October.

"It's a strange feeling," Johnson said after hearing the news. "Obviously I am delighted to get another chance and Nicky is happy for me. But she is also gutted."

It is apt that Johnson should get his chance through injury because it has been the fragile fitness record of the former Middlesex bowler which has prevented him from playing for England on more than one occasion. This will not be Johnson's first England tour. He was selected for England's three-Test tour of India in 2001 but failed to make the final XI during their 1-0 series defeat.

Johnson, who had already been selected in England's one-day squads for Bangladesh and Sri Lanka which leave at the end of October, would have been an automatic choice for the winter tours had he not had injury problems of his own. Indeed, he aggravated the ongoing problem he has with his right knee during the match against Zimbabwe at Chester-le-Street.

After recovering from this setback, Johnson then damaged his groin playing in England's victorious one-day team that won both the NatWest Challenge and NatWest Series. In seven matches Johnson took eight wickets at the cost of only 22 apiece and conceded under four runs an over.

"It was frustrating not being able to play in the Test series against South Africa after making such a good start at Durham," Johnson said. "I still feel I have a lot to offer in Test cricket and will be doing everything I can to make an impact in Bangladesh."