Under fire Mitchell Johnson dropped by Australia
Thursday 02 December 2010
Australia's decision to drop Mitchell Johnson is being interpreted by many as the first major psychological blow landed by England in this winter's Ashes.
But captain Andrew Strauss is too wise to start crowing yet in a series still scoreless after one high-scoring draw in Brisbane, on the eve of the second Test at a venue where England suffered the most demoralising of five straight defeats on their last tour.
Ricky Ponting confirmed at a press conference this morning that Johnson was being released from Australia's 13-man squad - leaving Ryan Harris, Doug Bollinger and Ben Hilfenhaus to vie for the final pace-bowling slot at the Adelaide Oval.
Strauss, reading the same script he and all his players have delivered all tour, insisted England will waste no time worrying about Australia's selection policy but will train their eye on the challenge posed by whoever is picked to face them tomorrow.
"Mitchell has been a very good performer for Australia over a number of years, and has been spearheading their attack - so it's quite a big call for them to leave him out," said Strauss.
"But it's not something that concerns us. We've got to be ready for whoever might take his place and make sure we've got plans in place to counteract them."
At the suggestion England might have batted Johnson out of the team - he finished with match figures of none for 170 at the Gabba, after the tourists' second-innings 517 for one declared - Strauss added: "You can't worry about what's happened already too much, or you can get sidetracked by it.
"This is a new set of circumstances, different conditions, and it's going to be a slightly different bowling attack.
"You've got to be prepared to play what's ahead of you, not behind you."
Johnson this morning spoke of his determination to return to the form which has so far brought him 166 Test wickets.
"Obviously I'm disappointed. But it's not the end of the world," he said.
"I've come back from stress fractures when I was younger.
"I'll be working away to get back into this test team and hope to be a big part of it.
"There are a few things I'm going to work on in the nets - I was a little bit out of form in last test. Obviously, there's a bit of work for me to do."
The 29-year-old accepts it may be a blessing in disguise for him to miss this second Test.
"Getting away from all the hype will be the best option for me, to work out the game.
"In the last game I was trying to do all that working during a game, which is obviously very hard to do.
"In the end, I need to work things out, go to net sessions, get back in the gym, get my head straight, and get back into the team."
Teams for the second Test between England and Australia, starting in Adelaide on Friday at 0000 GMT (1030am local time):
England (from): AJ Strauss (captain), AN Cook, IJL Trott, KP Pietersen, PD Collingwood, IR Bell, MJ Prior (wkt), SCJ Broad, GP Swann, ST Finn, JM Anderson, CT Tremlett, A Shahzad
Australia (from): RT Ponting (captain), SM Katich, SR Watson, MJ Clarke, MEK Hussey, MJ North, BJ Haddin (wkt), XJ Doherty, PM Siddle, RJ Harris, DE Bollinger, BW Hilfenhaus
Umpires: T Hill (NZ) and M Erasmus (SA)
Third umpire: B Doctrove (WI)
Match referee: J Crowe (NZ)
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