Jhye Richardson’s omission from Australia’s Test squad today surprised, if not angered, many after the Scorchers quick’s dominant Big Bash season, but Mitchell Johnson supports the conservative approach taken in the 24-year-old path to a Test cricket return.
Richardson was named in Australia’s 18-man T20 squad to tour New Zealand while their longer-form compatriots tour South Africa at the same time, his inclusion is his first international call-up since seriously injuring his shoulder while fielding against Pakistan in 2019.
Australian fast bowling legend Johnson (313 wickets) is aware of the conditioning required to last in a Test series and backed Richardson’s delayed comeback to Test cricket.
“Originally I said probably take him to South Africa but then looking at it he hadn’t played any Shield cricket so his bowling loads are quite low,” Johnson told the Fast and the Curious podcast.
“That’s important, you have to get yourself prepared for Test cricket and he’s probably not there yet and he’d provably tell you that too I’m assuming.
“It’s a smart choice to get him into the Test squad, but it’s a great opportunity for all these guys because normally it’s one squad and now there’s this opportunity getting experience for all these guys but Jhye deserves that spot.
“He’s come back from his injury really well and he’s been patient, which is hard to do when you’re a young guy because you feel like you’re in a rush.
“(Richardson) has got so much time in the game.”
The Perth product was a stand-out from the BBL regular season with 27 wickets across 14 matches, while averaging 22.25 runs per innings.
Matthew Wade was dropped from the Test squad, but the Tasmanian will line-up alongside Richardson in New Zealand as Vice Captain of the shorter format side.
Johnson agreed with the decision to drop Wade but threw up Hobart Hurricanes’ Riley Meredith as fast bowler he would have liked to see travel to South Africa.
“Only one I probably would look at is Riley Meredith, I would have loved to see him in the Test squad,” he said.
“As a fill in for Mitchell Starc, they’re very similar in a lot of ways, they have that raw pace.
“I did watch his last couple games, he’s been hit a little bit but he’s also had catches dropped and opportunities not taken and that definitely comes into it.
“I think that needs to be talked about more, a little bit like in Baseball, they actually count their errors.”