John­son has foot in door of Test team

Townsville Bulletin - - Sport -

RIS­ING fast bowler Mitchell John­son is on the brink of be­com­ing Townsville’s first home-grown Test crick­eter.

John­son, 25, stands next in line for a place in the Aus­tralian pace bat­tery af­ter be­ing named as 12th man for the first four Tests of the Ashes se­ries.

The ex­cit­ing left-armer — once de­scribed by Den­nis Lillee as a ‘once in a gen­er­a­tion bowler’ — came des­per­ately close to a Test de­but be­fore be­ing pipped by NewSouth Welsh­man Stu­art Clark for a place in the fi­nal XI for the first Ashes Test in Bris­bane last month.

John­son’s in­clu­sion in the Test squad fol­lowed his im­pres­sive per­for­mances in help­ing the Aus­tralian lim­ite­dovers team win the Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy in In­dia in Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber.

John­son — who has over­come a se­ries of bat­tles with a de­bil­i­tat­ing back in­jury to con­tinue his ca­reer — has taken 14 wick­ets in 10 lim­ited-over in­ter­na­tion­als since his de­but last year.

John­son last month spoke of his de­light at his in­clu­sion in the Test squad.

‘‘The last cou­ple of days have been hard, wait­ing, try­ing not to think about it but nowI’m in, it’s just amaz­ing,’’ John­son said.

‘‘It’s as big as it gets with us try­ing to win the Ashes back and play­ing in front of a home crowd with all the hype.

‘‘Just to be around it all is go­ing to be mind-blow­ing.’’

John­son has come a long way since the time two years ago he was con­sid­er­ing giv­ing cricket away.

His in­jury prob­lems had led to him los­ing his Queens­land cricket con­tract and the Wan­der­ers ju­nior was fac­ing a ‘tough time per­son­ally’.

‘‘Two sea­sons ago I was in Townsville for a month, al­most quit­ting the game,’’ John­son said.

‘‘To be where I am now, I have to pinch my­self to think what I’ve achieved.’’

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Mitchell John­son

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