County news April 2, 2012

Durham snap up Mitchell Johnson

Durham have signed Mitchell Johnson, the Australia fast bowler, as their second overseas player for the 2012 Friends Life t20 competition.

Johnson's international T20 record is not the best - he concedes his runs at over seven an over and averages only 10.09 with the bat. But he has played all but three games of his T20 career at international level and will be eager to prove a point with Durham ahead of the World T20 in September. Herschelle Gibbs, the South Africa batsman, is Durham's other overseas player for T20.

Johnson, 30, was named ICC Cricketer of the Year in 2009 and has appeared in 47 Tests, 107 ODIs and 28 T20 internationals. A combination of injury issues and lost form have seen him lose favour in the Australian set-up, however, and he has fallen some way down the pecking order as a new generation of Australian fast bowlers has emerged.

But it is less than 18-months since he bowled out England to help Australia win the Perth Test while, as a batsman, he has proved good enough to score a Test century and two ODI half-centuries.

"I've heard brilliant things about Durham from Paul Collingwood when he played over in Perth and I'm really excited about joining up with the squad," Johnson said. "Delivering match-winning contributions is important to me and that's not just with a focus on my bowling: all-round performances in T20 are really important and I want to leave at the end of July having secured our place at finals day."

Durham's chief executive, David Harker, added, "Mitchell is an excellent addition to our squad and he will certainly be a force to be reckoned with. One of our ambitions for 2012 is to get to t20 finals day and we have made the investment to bring in players that we feel will enhance our already talented squad to help us achieve that. It'll be great for us to welcome Mitchell to the set up."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo