‘Johnson's Ashes time is up’

LONDON: Australian media and cricket fans Monday called for Mitchell Johnson to be left out of Thursday's third Ashes Test against England amid mounting concerns over his lack of bowling form.

The left-arm pace spearhead has been struggling with his eight wickets going for 331 runs in the opening two Tests of the series, and it got no better with match figures of 1-107 off 18.1 overs in the weekend tour match against Northamptonshire.

Pundits and cricket followers chorused that it was time to find someone else to share the new ball with the Australians already 1-0 down in the best-of-five Test series.

"It's hard to justify Johnson's inclusion in a four-pronged attack," The Sydney Morning Herald's Peter Roebuck said. "Australia cannot afford to carry a pace bowler on a wing and a prayer.

"Johnson has had a bad tour. He's been in England for months. His action has gone to pot and his confidence is in his boots. Perhaps too much was expected."

The Australian said Johnson "was by far the worst" of Australia's bowlers in the three-day match at Northampton, which the tourists won by 135 runs. Fellow paceman Stuart Clark impressed to boost his chances of a recall.

"If form is any guide Johnson should be replaced by Stuart Clark for the third Test at Edgbaston, beginning on Thursday," the newspaper's Malcolm Conn said.

The Herald said Johnson's "disconsolate" body language was noticeable in the Northamptonshire match.

"Every play and miss, every shot that eluded a fielder was greeted with a slumped head and a resigned slap on the thigh," the SMH's Chloe Saltau said.

"His long-awaited breakthrough did little to suggest he can resurrect his tour in the bearpit that is Edgbaston from Thursday, where the English batsmen will prey on his technical and mental vulnerability."

Fans also called time on the misfiring Johnson with a majority on newspaper blog sites saying he had to go.

"When batsmen are out of form they get dropped. So should bowlers. Being 1-0 down we need five fit and in-form bowlers to win a Test," one fan said.

"The team should be picked on form. Mitchell's bowling form is not good, so he should stand aside until he is one of the top 11 players again," another said.