Johnson, Stokes cleared after mid-pitch collision

JOHN PYE
Last updated 05:00 10/12/2013
Mitchell Johnson
Getty Images
FREE TO PLAY: Mitchell Johnson has not been charged following an on-field collision with England Ben Stokes.

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Australian fast bowler Mitchell Johnson and England allrounder Ben Stokes have been cleared of misconduct over a collision in the second Ashes test and will be free to play in Perth later this week.

Both players pleaded not guilty in a hearing with match referee Jeff Crowe on Monday after Australia's 218-run win in Adelaide.

A guilty decision could have meant suspension for a test match, or a fine equivalent to the player's full match fee.

Australia takes a 2-0 lead into the third test in Perth, which starts Friday, and where Johnson is expected to be a key contributor.

The 32-year-old paceman, who already has 17 wickets in the series, produced a career-best eight wicket haul at the WACA in Perth in 2008 and took six wickets in an innings in the last Ashes test at the venue.

He and Stokes were charged after the close of play Sunday under section 2.2.4 of the International Cricket Council's code of conduct relating to "inappropriate and deliberate physical contact between players in the course of play."

The incident occurred in the 84th over, after Johnson took the new ball late on Sunday, when the New Zealand-born Stokes was running for a single. Johnson had kept his line in his follow through and Stokes, who was looking in another direction as he took his single, bumped into him.

Crowe said he was satisfied that the contact was not deliberate, but said both players could have done more to avoid each other and had been "counselled" over their behavior.

"We do not condone physical contact, but recognized that on occasions such contact could be accidental," he said.

The Ashes series has been spiteful, with heated verbal exchanges marring stages of Australia's wins in Brisbane and Adelaide.

Australia captain Michael Clarke was fined after an obscenity he used as he traded insults with England's Jimmy Anderson was heard on the TV broadcast of the first test.

Johnson and Stokes, who was playing his first test for England, had a number of terse exchanges during the second test in Adelaide.

England has won the last three Ashes series, completing the most recent with a 3-0 victory at home in August, but has been on the back foot since arriving in Australia.

Johnson, who missed selection for the last Ashes tour, has had a major impact on the current series and has been voted player of the match in the first two tests. He took nine wickets in Australia's 381-run victory in Brisbane, and followed it up with 7-40 in the first innings at Adelaide and the key wicket of England captain Alastair Cook in the second innings.

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The England batsmen have been intimidated by his pace and short-pitch bowling, with half of the dismissals so far coming from legside catches to attempted hooks, pulls or fends.

"I'm bowling in short spells. That is what Michael Clarke has wanted me to do through this series so far, and it's something that I have really enjoyed doing," Johnson said. "I guess having that intimidation factor is definitely a bonus."

- (Live Matches)

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