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Johnson had guaranteed cricket contract
By Tom Wald
09:24 AEST Sat Jun 23 2012

The decision to hand Mitchell Johnson a national team contract for 2012/13 raised eyebrows across Australia.

However, Cricket Australia revealed in Ireland on Friday that the enigmatic fast bowler will simply be serving the second year of a two-year deal signed under the old regime.

Not that the left-arm quick was in any danger of losing his status according to chief selector John Inverarity.

It had been thought that Johnson would drop well down the pecking order following the emergence of exciting young quicks Pat Cummins, James Pattinson and Mitchell Starc.

Johnson sustained a serious foot injury in South Africa in November last year and, in his absence, the Test team underwent a revival during the home summer.

The 4-0 thumping of India came off the back of a much more disciplined approach from the fast bowling attack.

For all of Johnson's match-winning abilities, consistency has never been a strong point.

With Cricket Australia slashing its contracts from 25 to 17 under the new deal, Inverarity said the West Australian would still have picked up a new contract if his deal had expired.

"Look I think he would have, yeah," Inverarity told AAP from England.

"We have very high expectations that he will come back and come back extremely well.

"His record is very good."

Johnson was one of seven fast bowlers named on the contract list.

Inverarity said he had kept a close eye on the 30-year-old, who worked with the selector's old WA teammate Dennis Lillee in his comeback.

The full-time selector still believed the tearaway brought something special to the selection table.

"It is in there somewhere," he said.

"If we can provide the support and he can deliver ... he is an outstanding player."

However, even his patience must run out at some stage.

"Now he has to perform," Inverarity said.

"He is in the 17, he will need to perform and we hope he does."

Meanwhile, David Hussey's optimism this week about a possible Test debut in his mid-30s seems well-founded.

As one of only half a dozen batsmen nationally contracted, Inverarity said Hussey was in the mix should a vacancy appear in the middle order.

"We have got our top six at the moment but if you are looking for a middle-order option and the ones that come very much to mind are Peter Forrest, George Bailey and David Hussey," Inverarity said.

"They are the ones that are to the fore at the moment."

Hussey will turn 35 next month and is still hopeful of making next year's Ashes tour.

Incumbent Test opener Ed Cowan just missed out on a national deal but should be heartened by the fact that he is still held in high esteem by the selection panel.

Cowan will lead Australia A on a four-match tour of England next month and some good scores wouldn't hurt after averaging just under 30 in his opening seven Tests.

"Everyone must keep performing but Ed is firmly in place as our opening batsman at the moment," Inverarity said.


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