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Johnson ruled out of World Twenty20

Daniel Brettig
March 16, 2014 « Success for Christie at World Championships | Chartbeat test »
The infection has taken time to heal for Mitchell Johnson © Getty Images
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Australia's spearhead Mitchell Johnson has been forced out of the World Twenty20 due to an infected toe, thrusting Doug Bollinger into the squad as the national selectors' next best left-arm option.

Johnson had initially been rested from the T20 matches that followed his major contribution to the 2-1 Test series win in South Africa. However the infection, derived from a cut to Johnson's right big toe that he carried through a marathon bowling stint on the final day of the series at Newlands, has been slow to heal.

Though currently being treated with antibiotics, Johnson was ruled out of the event on Sunday, with Bollinger now preparing to journey to Bangladesh rather than playing for New South Wales in the Sheffield Shield final against Western Australia in Canberra.

"Mitchell had a cut on his right big toe after the 3rd Test against South Africa which became infected when he returned home to Australia after the series," Cricket Australia's chief medical officer, Dr Justin Paoloni said. "We have given Mitchell as long as we can but unfortunately his infection hasn't responded to the treatment as quickly as we had hoped with swelling remaining in his toe and foot.

"It is difficult to say how quickly the infection will take to resolve and due to the high risk of infection recurrence with a return to bowling we feel it is in the best interests of Mitchell's health for him to continue to receive intensive treatment in Perth."

Johnson's absence is an enormous blow to Australia's chances to end a hugely successful summer with their first World T20 trophy, given his supreme performances in Tests against England and South Africa. It is also a significant reverse for the tournament itself, as Johnson is arguably cricket's most watchable performer at present, adding pace, excitement and danger to every match he takes part in.

Bollinger has not played for Australia since October 2011, but he was part of the Test squad during the latter part of the home Ashes series, when the selectors elected to carry an unchanged XI through all five Tests. Had Johnson fallen prey to injury during the Ashes, Bollinger would have come in as a like-for-like impact bowler.

"This is disappointing news as it was anticipated that Mitch would have a significant impact with his pace and menace," the national selector John Inverarity said of Johnson's convalescence. "Doug Bollinger has been called into the squad to replace Mitchell. Doug has had significant experience in the sub-continent and in international white ball cricket and his ability to bowl with good pace was a factor in his selection."

As was the case with Alex Doolan and Shaun Marsh being granted their places in the Test batting order, the selectors have chosen Bollinger according to long-held views about who is the best man to replace Johnson rather than taking too close a look at relevant domestic figures. Bollinger's Big Bash League display this summer was modest, reaping six wickets at 44.66 for the Hobart Hurricanes.

While the Blues have lost Bollinger, they are also likely to gain a pair of useful reinforcements, as both the Australian Test captain Michael Clarke and the allrounder Moises Henriques are firming to be available for the Shield final, which begins on Friday at Manuka Oval.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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