Australia resist four-seam attack for first test
Australian captain Michael Clarke says paceman Mitchell Johnson can consider himself unlucky after being dropped for the first Test against Sri Lanka in Hobart starting tomorrow.
In his first appearance in the baggy green for a year, the left-arm quick claimed match figures of 6-164 in a heavy loss to South Africa in the third Test in Perth.
Johnson would have been a lethal proposition for the Sri Lankan batsmen on a green-top pitch in Hobart, however the former ICC Player of the Year has been named 12th man.
Clarke named his XI on Thursday with a pace attack of Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus who return after being rested from the Perth Test with injury concerns, plus young left-armer Mitchell Starc who holds his place after taking eight wickets at the WACA in Perth.
Offspinner Nathan Lyon has also been retained while Clarke can use allrounder Shane Watson as a fourth pace-bowling option.
Allrounder John Hastings has been dropped after making his debut in Perth.
"Mitchell bowled very well in Perth and he is unlucky to miss out," Clarke told a news conference on Thursday.
"It certainly wasn't a simple decision."
Clarke denied that part of the reason Starc was chosen ahead of Johnson was to give the 22-year-old veteran of five Tests as much five-day cricket as possible before next year's Ashes tour.
"I'm not looking at the Ashes at all," said Clarke, who is one of Australia's five selectors.
"The reason Mitchell Starc's there is because he's been next in line in the queue for a while.
"He got one Test in Perth (taking 2-55, 6-154 and scoring 68 not out) ... so it's not a bad start.
"Whoever we left out in this Test match, it was always going to be a topic of conversation.
"(Chairman of selectors) John Inverarity (and coach and selector) Mickey Arthur ... need to continue to look to India (Test tour in February 2013) and then to the Ashes.
"But for me as a player and for the rest of this team, we're focused on this Test match."
Clarke, who has been in amazing form at No.5, says he thought long and hard about moving to No.4 following the recent retirement of Ricky Ponting.
Australia have chosen instead to move No.3 Shane Watson to No.4 and recall opener Phil Hughes to bat at No.3.
"The strength and the advantage that we have in our top four now is that all four have opened the batting for Australia so, against the new ball, they'll be very well suited," said Clarke, who is the leading Test run-scorer for 2012 with 1358 at 104.46.
Australia: Michael Clarke (capt), Ed Cowan, David Warner, Phil Hughes, Shane Watson, Mike Hussey, Matthew Wade, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Peter Siddle, Ben Hilfenhaus, Mitchell Johnson (12th man).