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Johnson was guaranteed contract

Daniel Brettig in Belfast

June 22, 2012

Comments: 21 | Text size: A | A

Mitchell Johnson bends his back, South Africa v Australia, 2nd Test, Johannesburg, 3rd day, November 19, 2011
Mitchell Johnson has not played for Australia since the tour of South Africa last year © Getty Images
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Mitchell Johnson was never in danger of losing his Cricket Australia contract for 2012-13 because he already had one. On the day the players and the board said farewell to the old system of contracts and its various flaws, the last vestige of the Andrew Hilditch era was revealed to be a two-year deal for Johnson that carried over into the current period.

Johnson's appearance on a tight list of 17 players that featured neither the current Twenty20 captain George Bailey, nor the Test opener Ed Cowan, was considered a surprise to many, given his indifferent Test displays leading up to a serious injury that scuppered his home summer.

However the team performance manager, Pat Howard, explained that a primary reason behind Johnson's retention as a contract-holder was that in 2011 he had been granted two years by the former chairman of selectors Hilditch, his panel disbanded as part of the Argus review that also served as the genesis of the recalibrated contracts system.

"First off he was on a two-year contract, so he was already contracted, that gets around that issue," Howard said when asked about why Johnson had made it onto the far tighter CA contract list. "But he did play all the Tests in the lead-up to that period before his injury, and he did play across all three forms. So the reality is he got some ranking in all three forms.

"Without giving the opportunity to speak too largely without having the opportunity to sit down with the players individually, the selectors have gone through a fairly rigorous process in reviewing both where the player was and where they think the players will be."

John Inverarity, the national selector, indicated that Johnson may have been re-contracted anyway. "Look I think he would have," he said. "We have very high expectations that he will come back and come back extremely well. His record is very good. The consideration was that he already had a contract for this period. That was a given.

"We know how well he can bowl. That Test match against England in Perth when he got his action just right. It is in there somewhere, if we can provide the support and he can deliver than he is an outstanding player. Mitch has x-factor and of course he is also a very good No. 8 batsman. He is a talented cricketer. Now he has to perform. He is in the 17, he will need to perform and we hope he does."

As a mature-bodied fast bowler with a strong record of durability up to last November's unusual foot injury, Inverarity said that Johnson will also provide useful squad cover for a fast bowling ensemble that has grown increasingly deep, varied and skilful.

"The younger guys can't stand the workload of those that are 27, 28 years of age," Inverarity said. "With Pat Cummins, he is not going to play lots of consecutive Test matches. We need depth there and we want to bring on carefully James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins. I think last summer for Mitchell [Starc] was about perfect."

Though seldom widely publicised, CA has for some years offered contracts of two or more years to their most bankable assets, commonly going to the likes of Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and Shane Watson. Howard said that four players, including Johnson, had held multi-year deals that carried over into the next 12 months, but he indicated that the clause represented a part of the previous regime.

"It's obviously become far tighter, far more difficult to get a contract, and that was the whole point of the Argus review to make it a little bit more stringent," Howard said. "But there's plenty of room to upgrade as they have in the past and from memory 13 players got upgraded last year, and we equally expect that sort of thing to occur in the next year, not just the Test players but ODI and T20 players as well."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by 5wombats on (June 25, 2012, 12:11 GMT)

@Gilly4ever. "Johnson should be on a contract. He has such amazing potential and I strongly feel that he plus Watson are going to be the 2 central figures in Australian cricket future". Do you really think that? Lets have a look at the series they have been involved with..... Mmm... "Central figures in Australian cricket", eh? That'll be fun to watch. No, wait - it already was.

Posted by AKS286 on (June 25, 2012, 5:49 GMT)

@MEETY good to see you that you also thinks MJ for all format. MJ is the best bowler & long running bowler after mcgrath, lee, gillespie.

Posted by Meety on (June 25, 2012, 1:59 GMT)

Happy enuff for MJ to have a contract on a limited list. He is one of our 3 best current ODI bowlers & has been just about our most consistantly best T20 bowler, & he still has the ability to be a test match bowler of the top order. He will need to perform in the tests as I think he he has used up all of his credit.

Posted by CaptainPiha on (June 24, 2012, 11:27 GMT)

Pick over the carcass of Australian cricket all you like, the simple fact is the Aussies haven't got a single bowler who would get picked ahead of ANY of the England quicks. Or spinners for that matter. But thats ok because your strength is in your batting. Oh wait...

Posted by 5wombats on (June 24, 2012, 9:10 GMT)

He bowls it to the left side he bowls it to the right....

Posted by Kaze on (June 23, 2012, 10:47 GMT)

Johnson should play as an all rounder, he has gotten very slack with his batting. But he's a very good batsman when he wants to be.

Posted by gogoldengreens on (June 23, 2012, 10:45 GMT)

Mitch contact should be backed up by pope sprinklers... he sprays the ball around like one!! His batting is great when on song the problem is all the low scores in between & then he doesn't hang around to help a proper batsman. other tail batsman although they will never score a 100 they consistently help add 40 runs with a batsman! this is also reflected in his bowling a 6 or 7 sizzling wicket hall for not many runs with lots of 1 or 2 for 120 innings in between.

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (June 23, 2012, 8:48 GMT)

Johnson should be on a contract. He has such amazing potential and I strongly feel that he plus Watson are going to be the 2 central figures in Australian cricket future.

Posted by   on (June 23, 2012, 6:36 GMT)

Johnson will miss out for the test matches with the current depth in pace bowling we have and I think Hilfenhaus, Siddle and Pattinson and Lyon the spinner is the perfect attack for test matches moving forward. Also guys like Ryan Harris and Cummins are also in the wings for test matches. But i think in the ODI's and T20's that probly Siddle wont play and that opens up a spot for Johnson or Lee to play. In my opinion James Pattinson is an absolute 1st choice selection for all 3 formats he would be the 1st bowler id pick everytime, he's had a awesome start to his career especially in tests. the bowling is so good atm that even guys like Brett Lee and Mitch Johnson who are normally very good in 50 over cricket may struggle to get selected moving forward, but i would hav one of lee and johnson playing in ODI's just for the experience they hav over the young guys, also Clint Mckay is in there for ODI's so it is an awesome attack the aussies have hard to fit everyone in!!!

Posted by   on (June 23, 2012, 6:30 GMT)

It's true that when he has a good day, he is devastating. Unfortunately he only has one good day every eight tests. If he can't find consistency in shield cricket he shouldn't be in the test team, simple as that. He was due to be dropped when he got injured, so to give him a 2 year deal wasn't a good idea.

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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