Johnson prefers Test cricket over Twenty20

Mitchell Johnson turns down Perth Scorchers offer to feature in Big Bash League to concentrate on coming-up Test series Getty Images

Melbourne: Jul 12, 2011

At a time when Twenty20 riches seem to be luring players away from Test cricket, Australian pacer Mitchell Johnson has decided to stay away from the shortest format of the game to be fit for the summer series against India and New Zealand.

The left-armer turned down an offer from Perth Scorchers to represent the side in the inaugural season of the Twenty20 Big Bash League (BBL) in order to keep himself fit for one of Australia’s most taxing Test match summers.

The 29-year-old felt that it would do him little good to try to squeeze Twenty20 appearances in between home Test series against New Zealand and India, which follow winter and spring tours to Sri Lanka and South Africa.

“At the moment I’ve decided not to sign with any of the Twenty20 sides,” Johnson told reporters in Brisbane at Australia’s training camp.

“The Scorchers approached me and at the moment I’m just happy to focus on the summer coming up,” the bowler said.

Johnson’s move, however, will have an impact on Cricket Australia’s (CA) attempt to add stars to the league in order to push the game’s audience and revenue.

The cricketer, meanwhile, wants to go back to grade cricket when he gets the chance.

“With India coming over, they’re obviously a strong side, and it might give me a chance also to go back to grade cricket if the opportunity’s there. We’ve got a big summer coming up, Sri Lanka first, then South Africa, they’re going to be big Tests for us in their home towns, and a big summer here, so that’s where my main focus is,” Johnson insisted.

“I’m just going to take it one step at a time. We’re playing Sri Lanka, I haven’t played a Test series there, we’ve got the T20s and one dayers first. It’s a big summer, I’m just going to take it one tour at a time and I’m looking forward to the challenges in Sri Lanka,” Johnson said.

“I haven’t played Test cricket there, I know the wickets are pretty flat and it’s quite hot over there as well. They’ve got Kumar Sangakkara in unbelievable form, Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan can go off at any time, they’ve got such a great side,” he added.

Johnson is aware of the demanding job ahead and has been training hard during the off-season, rejuvenating his body for the long days in the field that can be expected against good batting sides such as Sri Lanka or India.

“I’m feeling pretty good at the moment. “I’ve got plenty of years in me, I don’t know if I’m reaching my peak now, but I’m always working as hard as I can to be as strong as I can and as fit as I can.

“That’s why it’s been a good break for me, I’ve been able to go back and do a bit of running, do a lot of strength work and just do different things outside of cricket. So I feel very strong at the moment,” Johnson said.