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Sun Apr 20 18:27:45 SAST 2014

Clarke happy to have Johnson back regardless

TEAMtalk Media | 02 July, 2012 12:200 Comments
Australia's Mitchell Johnson looks on during the second one-day international against England at the Oval cricket ground in London July 1, 2012
Image by: Philip Brown / REUTERS

Australian captain Michael Clarke was left to defend the selection of Mitchell Johnson for the third ODI at The Oval after the seamer endured a torrid return to topflight cricket.

Sidelined from international competition for seven months after sustaining a foot injury on the tour of South Africa in November last year, Johnson's comeback didn't go according to plan on Sunday, when he went without a wicket and proved expensive in a six-wicket defeat to England.

Opening the attack with Brett Lee ahead of Clint McKay, the seamer delivered a wayward two-over spell. He later returned for three more, and then another two, none of which garnered a semblance of consistency.

"Mitchell has been very good, he has been high on confidence, he has been bowling really well in the nets," said Clarke. "It's his first game back as well, so it's going to take a bit of time, but Mitch was really looking forward to his opportunity.

"It was unfortunate we couldn't get a win up, but it is great to have him back around the group."

England's successful pursuit of a 252-run target thanks to half-centuries from Ian Bell and Ravi Bopara was largely aided by the slew of extras coughed up by the visiting attack. Australia endured nine wides and four no-balls - six spilled from the left hand of Johnson.

"You need to be able to control the ball. I think our bowling in general we didn't control the ball enough against good opposition," added Clarke. "We bowled too many wides and no-balls as well - they're so costly. Not only is it a no-ball but you get a free-hit afterwards. So we've got areas we need to improve very quickly."

Johnson was drafted into the XI in the wake of injury to Pat Cummins, who has been ruled out of the duration of the series by a side strain. Clarke insisted the left-armer was the right choice, despite the presence of right-armers Ben Hilfenhaus and James Pattinson in the squad.

"Mitch has been bowling very well in the nets, he has got good pace, as Cummins does. Pat has got that x-factor, and we thought Mitch does as well. He is left-arm, so he brought something different," concluded the Australian skipper.

The third ODI gets underway at Edgbaston on Wednesday.

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