Smith says Northants may go for Australia pace bowler Mitchell Johnson

COUNTY BOUND? - Mitchell Johnson
COUNTY BOUND? - Mitchell Johnson

Aussie Ashes reject Mitchell Johnson could be on his way to Northants to play in this summer’s Twenty20 competition.

The County’s chief executive David Smith has declared an interest in signing the left-arm pace bowler and hard-hitting batsman, who was this week overlooked by the Australia selectors for this summer’s Ashes series against England.

The 31-year-old will now be available for a full stint in the English T20 season that starts at the end of June, and Smith has admitted Northants will be interested in signing the player who has has played 51 Tests for his country and taken 205 wickets at the highest level.

Speaking to BBC Radio Northampton, Smith said of Johnson: “He’s a player that would interest most that have a vacancy.

“He’s someone I know [head coach] David Ripley is looking at, along with one or two others at the moment.”

The Steelbacks have already signed up Johnson’s fellow Australian Cameron White for the T20 season, and after being rebuffed by another Australian in Shaun Marsh, it could be that Johnson is now offered the chance to be Northants’ second overseas T20 player.

“We’re following up our next in line,” said Smith. “I think most people are aware that with Mitchell Johnson having not been selected for Australia, clearly he has become a candidate for a number of counties for T20.

“My understanding is he doesn’t want to play [four-day] county cricket, he wants to play T20. He’s likely to have some involvement with the Australia one-day team after the Ashes.”

Johnson is currently playing for Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League and is seen mainly as a fast bowler, but he has displayed good batting ability and has a Test century and seven Test half-centuries to his name.

He averages just shy of 22 in Test cricket, but has a poor T20 record with the bat, averaging 10.6 in 28 matches.

In the current IPL season with Mumbai, he has only batted once in six games, scoring 11.

But Smith believes that record will improve if Johnson were to sign on at the County Ground.

“Whoever we bring in will be a batsman or an all-rounder. Batting prowess will be required,” said the chief executive.

“The problem with a bowler is they can only influence four overs of the game,” added Smith.

“Mitchell’s a good all-round cricketer. He has a Test hundred and he hits a pretty hard ball in white-ball cricket.

“We feel the balance of someone of that ilk would be considered.”