Expensive Johnson costly for Coulter-Nile
One of the more promising young fast bowlers in Australia, Nathan Coulter-Nile, has been squeezed out of the Western Australia XI for the opening round of the Sheffield Shield because Mitchell Johnson cannot be relied upon to bowl in an economical fashion.
Coulter-Nile, widely expected to push for higher honours in coming seasons, has been handed drinks duties for Western Australia in the match against Tasmania at the WACA ground, as Cricket Australia encourages its international players to take part in as much state cricket as possible.
He was not chosen primarily because Johnson, playing at home for his state for the first time since moving from Queensland three years ago, is considered an attacking bowler too likely to concede runs in the search for wickets, despite his international pedigree and considerable experience.
This is understood to have ruled a line through Coulter-Nile's name because his own bowling is also geared towards aggression, and WA team management considered the risk of leaking runs was too great. Another factor was the absence of the young allrounder Mitchell Marsh on Australia duty, meaning the Warriors picked only four bowlers in the team to face the Tigers.
Michael Hogan, Matt Dixon and the left-arm spinner Michael Beer were considered better options to support Johnson at the WACA ground, in an episode that recalled numerous selection dilemmas in the Australian team over the past four years.
The inconsistencies of Johnson's bowling have influenced Australia's team balance for quite some time, forcing the selection of steadier pace bowlers around him and also piling pressure on a succession of spinners to be parsimonious in their methods despite lacking international experience.
Johnson was available for the fixture because he has been dropped from the Australian Twenty20 team, having conceded too many runs during his most recent T20 appearances in Sri Lanka. He will depart for the ODI leg of the South Africa tour at the conclusion of the Shield match.
At the age of 24, Coulter-Nile has played seven first-class matches for his state, claiming 32 wickets at 23.71 and also showing potential with the bat.
He has been described by Mickey Arthur, the WA coach, as "the one player in this group who will definitely go on and play higher", and bears more than a passing resemblance in method and physique to Ryan Harris, Australia's outstanding bowler on the recently completed tour of Sri Lanka.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo