Paceman Mitchell Johnson has been included in the Australian lineup for Friday’s ODI at the SCG.
Captain Ricky Ponting has welcomed the return of the Queensland seamer, clearly grateful for the balance Johnson brings to the team ahead of the upcoming clash with the Proteas.
“After a couple of weeks off he was jumping out of his skin to get back in the nets to bat and bowl again,” Ponting said. “That is a good sign for us.”
With the series so evenly contested Johnson’s inclusion may be a determining factor in the result at the SCG. The returning Johnson replaces Ben Hilfenhaus, who filled the gap for the two Twenty20s and the first two ODIs.
Johnson’s return to the SCG is expected to further test the Proteas’ batting lineup, being the most prolific of the Australian bowlers during the Test series with 17 wickets.
His pairing with the belligerent Shaun Tait will strengthen the frontline bowling attack. He also adds a batting dimension reminiscent of that which plagued the South African bowlers during the Test series.
The South African bowling lineup may change with the resting of Dale Steyn likely in either the Sydney or Adelaide ODI, as Mickey Arthur expressed early in the series he plans to rotate his fast bowlers.
The only uncertainty in the Australian lineup is whether offspinner Nathan Hauritz will be included on the spin friendly SCG pitch, with allrounder James Hopes the casualty if this eventuates.
Australia - 1 Shaun Marsh, 2 David Warner, 3 Ricky Ponting (capt), 4 Michael Hussey, 5 David Hussey, 6 Cameron White, 7 Brad Haddin (wk), 8 James Hopes/Nathan Hauritz, 9 Mitchell Johnson, 10 Nathan Bracken, 11 Shaun Tait.
By Rory Keohane