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Johnson wants lighter load

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Mitchell Johnson

Mitchell Johnson has been among a long list of Australia absentees through injury or illness, prompting the bowler to question the schedule

Mitchell Johnson has called for Australia’s summer schedule to be reduced next season after a run of injuries has left them limping into the World Cup.

Australia will head into Sunday’s seventh one-day international against England, the last match in a long summer, with six players sidelined by injury.

Stand-in skipper Michael Clarke and Shane Watson have been rested for the clash in Perth with Cricket Australia yesterday citing their heavy workload as the reason for not making the trip west.

Australia will be aiming for a fourth consecutive World Cup title when the tournament begins on February 19, but can ill afford any more injuries with Ricky Ponting (finger), Mike Hussey (hamstring), Nathan Hauritz (shoulder) and Steven Smith (hip) all facing a race to be fit for the showpiece.

Possible replacements Xavier Doherty (back) and Shaun Marsh (hamstring) have also suffered complaints during the rubber, while Shaun Tait (groin) and Johnson (illness) have missed games.

With the touring England side having also been reduced to the bare bones, with five of their players flying home with injuries, Johnson believes the schedule must be cut.

“It is a very long summer,” he said. “The Ashes is always going to be a five-match series, I don’t think you are ever going to want to change that, but maybe you can cut down the one-day stuff - maybe to five matches.

“Personally I think the seven matches is a touch too long. It’s been a pretty long summer so there’s bound to be those injuries along the way. They’ve had a few disappointing injuries and so have we.

“I don’t think it’s disconcerting, there are guys coming in who have played one-day cricket for Australia and done well for their states.

“We’ve got a lot of talent there and a lot of back-up. I’m keen to win this series 6-1 with the team we’ve got.”

The growing injury list has forced Australia to recall Adam Voges and Jason Krejza for Sunday’s game.

Both have become forgotten men in the recent past with Voges overlooked since last March, while Krejza has not represented his country since returning match figures of 1-204 when Australia lost the Perth Test against South Africa two years ago.

Matt Prior & Mitchell Johnson

Johnson relished being given the chance to bat at four in the last ODI. "I really enjoyed it, hopefully I will get more opportunities," he enthused

“It’s a bit of a different side but if you look at it there are guys that have played one-day cricket for Australia,” Johnson added.

“There’s guys that have come in like Voges and Krejza who have done well for their states.

“I think we’ve still got a very well-balanced side coming into this last game. We’re taking a lot of confidence into this last game and then into the World Cup.”

Johnson showcased his all-round talents in Wednesday’s two-wicket win in Sydney when he was promoted into a pinch-hitting role as Australia completed their highest ODI chase.

He hit 57 from 59 balls, after being elevated to number four, as Australia chased down England’s 333 for six.

It is a role Johnson hopes he can also perform at the World Cup.

“Michael (Clarke) and Ricky (Ponting) have spoken to me about it in the past. There’s been games previously where I have padded up and looked to take on that role,” he said.

“I don’t look at it as a pinch-hitting role. I look at it as a chance to go out there and be my aggressive self.

“I was surprised (to be promoted up the order) in Sydney actually. I was out the back having a hit with (batting coach) Justin Langer and having some throw downs.

“But I really enjoyed batting at four and hopefully I’ll get more opportunities.”

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