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Page last updated at 20:49 GMT, Sunday, 26 July 2009 21:49 UK

Johnson toils in Australian win

Tour match, Northampton (day three):
Australia 308-8 dec & 270-3 bt Northants 226-7 dec & 217 by 135 runs
Match scorecard

Mitchell Johnson
Left-arm seamer Johnson took only one wicket at Northampton

Pace bowler Mitchell Johnson's poor form continued as Australia warmed up for Thursday's third Ashes Test with a 135-run tour match win over Northants.

Under-fire Johnson took 1-65 from 11.1 overs but all-rounder Shane Watson and seamer Stuart Clark enhanced their chances of a recall to the Test side.

Watson blasted 11 fours in a 35-ball 50 to allow his side to declare on 270-3 as Northants needed an unlikely 353.

But Clark claimed 2-29 to seal the win as the hosts were bowled out for 217.

Johnson finished with match figures of 1-107 from 18.1 overs at Wantage Road - the only wicket being tail-ender David Wigley - and his place in the Test team for Thursday's match at Edgbaston will be under close scrutiny.


The left-armer, who struggled badly as England took a 1-0 lead in the Ashes series with victory at Lord's, conceded nine boundaries in his seven-over first spell that went for 45.

He was unable to bowl consistently to the packed off-side field set for him and also dropped a catch diving forward at mid-off when opener Ben Howgego was on eight.

But despite his struggles, Australia coach Tim Nielsen has faith that the 27-year-old will soon find his form.

"Mitchell has been at the forefront for the past two years when we have played some pretty good cricket," he said.

"There have been a lot of times when batsmen and bowlers have been out of form and we have stuck with them and shown some faith, unlike what seems to have been the public or the press's point of view.

"At the moment, we're working hard for him to get his bowling as good as we can - and we feel he is getting closer every time."

After Northants compiled an opening stand of 99 chasing their unlikely target, Watson made the breakthrough when Niall O'Brien top-edged an attempted pick-up shot into the off-side ring.

Clark, who was the leading wicket-taker in the last Ashes series in 2006/07, made his case for a recall with two wickets.

He had home captain Rob White edge a drive behind and then Alex Wakely glove a catch down the leg side as three wickets fell for 19 runs.

Shane Watson
Watson has been plagued by injuries throughout his career

Earlier, Wigley removed Phillip Hughes with a short ball on off-stump, that the left-hander edged on to his stumps, having added only three to his overnight 65.

Andrew McDonald edged his score to 75 before his attempted pull shot looped to short cover.

Watson soon thumped five successive fours off Wigley to reach fifty from 28 balls and reserve wicketkeeper Graham Manou also scored a half century.

McDonald later showed his all-round credentials by taking 4-15 in an economical 11-over spell to stake his claim for a call-up.

Watson and McDonald would be hoping to replace Marcus North at number six in the team.

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see also
Hughes finds form for Australia
25 Jul 09 |  Australia
Watson makes case for Ashes spot
24 Jul 09 |  Northants
Sledging edict 'blunts Aussies'
23 Jul 09 |  Australia
Lee doubtful for Edgbaston Test
23 Jul 09 |  Australia
Australia visit excites Northants
21 Jul 09 |  Northants
Australia in England 2009
20 Sep 09 |  England

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