Johnson looks to regain pace

Australia

After missing a large portion of the domestic summer, Mitchell Johnson is hopeful of being at his fiery best when he makes his return to the Australian side.

Johnson and bowling coach Craig McDermott arrived in Sydney on Friday evening – a day before the rest of the Aussie team – in order to get in an additional net session on Saturday.

"I've been bowling longer spells," Johnson admitted before his time away from the team.
 
"That's been at the back of my mind where I know I'm going to be bowling four, five, six over spells that I can't be flat out every ball. It has dropped off a little bit. It's been a big 15 months as well so it's tough cricket.
 
"We go out there day in and day out and we work really hard and to be able to bowl 150kph every game I'd be dreaming if I could do that. But I'd like to be going back to bowling shorter spells again."
 
Of Johnson's chances to be selected for Monday's match, Darren Lehmann admitted that he is hopeful of having the left-arm quick back for selection soon.

"I would think he'd be fine now with that sort of break, I'm excited to see how he's bowling," Lehmann said. 

"Hopefully he's back to full fitness and full pace. For us it's about getting him right to play now and back with the lads and enjoying the game of cricket."

Australia captain George Bailey, however, believes Johnson is nearing his best once again.

"I faced him last night and that's never pleasant, so his pace was still pretty good," Bailey said on Sunday.

"He's had another hit out today and he's going reasonably well. I don't think he'll play (against India), he'll be building up for Perth.

"He's really close and knowing how excited the quicks get in Perth I'd imagine he'd be pretty keen to have a crack there."

Johnson's fitness notwithstanding, Australia are continuing to monitor the fitness of regular captain Michael Clark, all-rounders Mitchell Marsh and Shane Watson, as well as opener David Warner.

Clarke and Marsh are battling hamstring strains, whilst Warner and Watson were absent from the team for Hobart as a precautionary.

Since Australia have already qualified for the Tri-Series final, changes are likely for Monday's match, Lehman admitted.

"Could be changes again, and could bat guys in different positions this game. It's a big game, everyone wants to play Australia Day, so we've got to make sure we're up for it again," he said.

"Winning becomes a habit and for us that's really important."
 
Despite going unbeaten in the series against India and England so far, Lehmann believes his side is still playing far below where they can perform.

"Probably being consistent with the ball more often and being ruthless with the bat," Lehmann said of where they could improve.
 
"I think our fielding's been outstanding, we do that and pick up that extra 20 per cent with the batting and bowling we'll be okay."

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