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Johnson rebuilds confidence from ashes
Guy Hand
19:15 AEST Thu Dec 27 2012

Australian cricket's man of the moment says Mitchell Johnson can be the man of the Boxing Day Test.

Amid the euphoria of Michael Clarke continuing a remarkable year with a century and a new personal milestone, the Australian skipper paid tribute to Johnson's batting cameo late on day two.

Johnson's unbeaten 73 helped Australia to a massive first-innings lead over Sri Lanka, and put the fast bowler within sight of a second Test century to go with his four-wicket haul from day one.

A year ago, Johnson's confidence lay in ruins following poor form, injuries and stinging Ashes ditties from the Barmy Army about his bowling quality - a pale shadow of the quick who was ICC player of the year in 2009.

Clarke says Johnson's batting on Thursday suggests he has taken the necessary confidence from destroying Sri Lanka's middle order the day before.

"When he's bowling well, he's full of confidence - he's as good a batsman as anyone in our team," Clarke said after becoming Australia's leading run-scorer in a calendar year.

"He's got all the shots. No coincidence he's already got a Test hundred. And he's not far away from another one.

"It's a really positive thing for Australian cricket to see him back, being a very good allrounder."

After Australia had lost three quick wickets, Johnson first teamed with Michael Hussey in a 61-run stand before the recognised batsman fell to a superb Rangara Herath outfield catch.

But Johnson led the exposed tail to a timely late-day wag, with superb stroke play in a chanceless knock.

With Sri Lanka's bowling giving him little trouble, Johnson's main danger to cracking three figures could be running out of partners.

Nathan Lyon resumes alongside him on nought, with only Jackson Bird to come.

Clarke signalled Johnson would be given the time to reach 100, saying he wanted Australia to keep batting and stretch their 284-run lead to unassailable levels.

"As many runs as we could get would be very handy. I'd love to see Mitchell get his second Test hundred," he said.

"Then we'll be back out there bowling, and hopefully we can bowl Sri Lanka out."


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