ICL: Indian Cricket League

Johnson asks Hobart locals for advice


The local knowledge of the Australia squad’s two Tasmanians will be tapped by Mitchell Johnson as he looks to build on his impressive debut. Johnson has risen swiftly to international honours - the Brisbane Test was his 23rd first-class game - and his experience at Bellerive Oval is limited to a handful of domestic contests for Queensland.

Fortunately Ricky Ponting will be on hand to offer advice in the lead-up to Friday’s second Test and Ben Hilfenhaus, the swing bowler, is also in the squad. “He’s a good one to speak too, playing there all the time, so I’ll have a chat with him,” Johnson said as he prepared to leave Brisbane. “The bowling group will also probably get together and ask him a few questions.”

The ball did not swing when Ponting played a Pura Cup match there two weeks ago, but there is hope from the fast men of obtaining some reverse late in the innings. Johnson remembers getting early movement in the air and off the surface, which will be analysed closely over the next couple of days.

Bellerive Oval has regularly been referred to as a “road” over the past decade, but the production of the pitch has changed since the curator Cameron Hodgkins took over. Following discussions with the Tasmania team management, Hodgkins began cultivating surfaces that did not result in regular bowling mutilation and they helped the Tigers record enough outright victories to host - and win - the 2006-07 Pura Cup final.

Hilfenhaus also benefited, picking up 60 wickets in last season’s competition, but he will need an injury to a fast-bowling team-mate to match Johnson’s debut. Australia have no plans to change the starting XI following the comprehensive innings-and-40-run victory over Sri Lanka at the Gabba on Monday.

Johnson was pleased with his returns of 2 for 49 and 2 for 47 and rated his first-up dismissal of Thilan Samaraweera as his favourite. “It moved away and got the edge,” he said. “And I nearly got him in the second innings the same way.”

At the end of the match the bowlers put their arms around each other and collected a stump to remember the strong team performance. “It was a pretty proud moment for us all,” he said. Now Johnson is aiming to improve his consistency for Hobart.

“At times I was too short and a bit wide [in Brisbane],” he said. “But it was my first game and I’m pretty happy with the way things went.”

Johnson opened the bowling on Friday but it looks as though he will share the new-ball duties with Stuart Clark. Ponting gave Clark, who also earned four wickets for the match, first use of the second one with Lee on Monday morning as Sri Lanka were dismissed for 300.

“Whoever gets the new ball deserves it at that time,” Johnson said. “I probably wasn’t swinging the ball as much as Ricky would have liked and I would have liked. Stuart was the man for the job at that stage.

“Stuart gets the ball to move around a little bit and he was even swinging the ball yesterday, which was a good sign. I’d love to get the new ball when I can, but it’s not a bad thing if we share it around.”

Sri Lanka are desperate for Kumar Sangakkara to return in Hobart from a hamstring tear and Johnson expects the batsman’s inclusion to strengthen the side. However, the tourists will have to lift as a group if they are to have any chance of levelling the two-game series.

“We want to try to beat them again convincingly and comprehensively, and drive it into them,” Johnson said. “We’re on a high at the moment so we’re going to keep going strong.”

Source:Cricket News

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