|Player:||MG Johnson, RT Ponting, SR Tendulkar, BC Lara|
DateLine: 18th September 2006
Australian bowling sensation Mitchell Johnson said on Monday taking the coveted wickets of cricket greats Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara had raised his hopes of taking part in this year's Ashes series.
The 24-year-old left-arm swing bowler was beaming when he returned to his hometown Brisbane despite being his early exit from the Australian tri-series squad following a career-best 4-11 against India. Johnson was sent home in a pre-planned decision by Australian selectors to slim down their 18-man squad here for the DLF Cup.
Praised by skipper Ricky Ponting and touted here as a possible inclusion for the Ashes Tests against England, Mitchell was delighted with his form in the Malaysian tri-series against India and West Indies.
"Tendulkar said 'well bowled'," an ecstatic Johnson told reporters in Brisbane. The Indian superstar was one of Johnson's four wickets claimed in eight balls in the abandoned tri-series clash at Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.
Tendulkar featured on an impressive list of Johnson's tri-series victims which also included West Indian great Brian Lara.
"Getting Tendulkar and Brian Lara in the same week has been awesome," Johnson said. "I probably struggled a little bit at the start of my one-day career so far but getting those wickets definitely has helped."
Johnson said he hoped to press his Ashes claims despite being sent home to play Brisbane club cricket as part of Australia's rotation policy. "It (the Ashes) is always in the back of your mind," he said. "I think now it's probably a little bit more but I'll see what happens."
The next major tournament in which Johnson could press his claims is the Champions Trophy in India next month. "I've still got the ICC Champions Trophy to go to and see how I'll go there and we'll see what happens," Johnson said.
He said he had taken the selectors' decision to send him home on the chin and would not be worried over his early return from Malaysia. ``It was always the plan to come back early, that was the decision that was made and we've stuck to it," he said. "I've just got to go back and play club cricket and do all the right things before the ICC Trophy."