Johnson dropped for Hobart

  • Last Updated: December 13 2012, 6:42 GMT

Australia have opted against a four-pronged pace attack in the first Test against Sri Lanka, with Mitchell Johnson named as 12th man.

Mitchell Johnson: Makes way in Hobart
Mitchell Johnson: Makes way in Hobart

Johnson, who made his return to Test cricket in the third Test against South Africa, has been overlooked with Peter Siddle, Ben Hilfenhaus and Mitchell Starc set to lead the Australian attack when the match gets under way at the Blundstone Arena.

It was a tough call for Johnson, who was arguably the pick of the bowlers against the Proteas with six wickets for the match.

Siddle and Hilfenhaus both return from injuries, while Nathan Lyon holds his place in the team as the only bowler to be selected in all four Tests this summer.

The Hobart clash also marks the return of Phil Hughes, who is set to bat at first drop with Shane Watson pushed down to number four.

Australia captain Michael Clarke admitted it had been a tough choice between Starc and Johnson, but backed the 22-year-old New South Wales star to justify his selection.

"Obviously it's a tough selection trying to cut 12 down to 11, especially with the way that Mitchell Johnson performed in Perth," Clarke said.

"Mitch (Johnson) would feel unlucky there's no doubt about that. Mitchell Starc has been in the queue for a while now and I thought he came in and did a really good job in Perth as well.

"We've gone for this attack for this Test match in these conditions against the opposition we are playing."

Clarke denied that there was a need to play Starc to build up his experience and confidence for the upcoming tours of India and England.

"For me, I'm not looking at the Ashes at all. The reason Mitchell Starc is there is that he's been next in line in the queue for a while. He's performed really well in the shorter form of the game for Australia," Clarke said.

"He got one Test in Perth, got a six-for and got 70 odd with the bat as well, so it's not a bad start.

"At the end of the day, you have to do what's best for the Australian team. You have to pick the best XI players to help you win a Test match."

Clarke backed Johnson to bounce back from the setback, and thinks that he will take it as a sign of the depth of the Australian bowling attack rather than an indication he is not up to scratch.

"It was a tough selection to leave Mitchell Johnson out, as it would have been whoever we left out, but I've been saying that it's a nice problem to have to have 12 blokes who want to play and have performed well," he said.

"Mitch will be fine and continue to work his backside off and wait for another opportunity and when that comes grab it with both hands."

Australia team: Michael Clarke (c), Ed Cowan, David Warner, Phil Hughes, Shane Watson, Mike Hussey, Matthew Wade, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle, Ben Hilfenhaus

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