Mitchell Johnson left out of team for opening Test against Sri Lanka

Mitchell Johnson missed out despite taking six wickets against South Africa in Perth last week AFP

Hobart: Dec 13, 2012

Paceman Mitchell Johnson has been left out of the Australian team for Friday’s opening Test against Sri Lanka with Ben Hilfenhaus and Peter Siddle returning to bolster the side.

The 31-year-old left-armer, who has 196 wickets in 48 Tests, missed out despite taking six wickets against South Africa in Perth last week.

Australia go into the series opener against Sri Lanka in Hobart with a three-prong pace attack of Hilfenhaus, Siddle and left-armer Mitchell Starc, supplemented by Shane Watson‘s swing and spinner Nathan Lyon.

Recalled Phil Hughes will bat at number three with Watson at four while skipper Michael Clarke and veteran Mike Hussey stay at five and six in the first Test match since the retirement of Ricky Ponting.

“Mitchell Johnson will be 12th man tomorrow,” Clarke said Thursday.

“Obviously, it was a tough decision, trying to cut 12 down to 11 and especially the way Johnson played in Perth, but for this Test match this is the 11 we have selected.

“Mitchell Starc has been in the queue for a while now and I thought he came in and did a good job in Perth,” he said.

“Mitchell Johnson bowled very well in Perth but we’ve gone for this attack in this Test match in these conditions against the opposition we’re playing,” he added.

Questioned whether the demotion would dent Johnson’s confidence after only returning to the Test side in Perth after a 12-month absence, Clarke said: “Mitchell will be fine, he’ll work hard and wait for another opportunity and try to grab it with both hands.”

He added that Starc had earned his place.

“The reason that Starc is there is because he’s been next in line in the queue for a while,” he said.

“He’s performed really well in the shorter form of the game for Australia. He got one Test in Perth and got six-for (6-154 in the South Africa second innings) and 68 not out with the bat so that’s not a bad start as well.”

Australia – David Warner, Ed Cowan, Phil Hughes, Shane Watson, Michael Clarke (c), Mike Hussey, Matthew Wade (wk), Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, Ben Hilfenhaus, Nathan Lyon. Mitchell Johnson (12th man)