Mitchell Johnson officially retired from international cricket after the second test match against New Zealand, taking two wickets in his final appearance on the fifth day last week.
Johnson has been a great performer for Australia, taking 313 wickets in 73 tests, and finishes his career as the fourth-highest wicket taker in Australian history after the likes of Dennis Lillee, Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne.
Against England, Johnson took 87 wickets in 19 Tests at an average of 25.81 and had an interesting relationship with the Barmy Army who would mercilessly tease him with the infamous ‘Mitchell Johnson song’.
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Former England captain Michael Vaughan was among the many stars to pay tribute to the left-arm bowler on Twitter:
The issue now for Darren Lehmann and his side is the hole in Australia’s bowling attack they need to fill. Here are the potential options the coach could choose to replace Johnson.
Ryan Harris has also retired recently and following Johnson’s withdrawal, the current pace attack is made up of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Marsh who are 25, 24 and 24 respectively and have played just 44 tests between them.
Therefore, there is a huge lack of experience in their side and if the selectors want to fulfil that criteria they will more than likely pick Peter Siddle.
The 30-year-old has played over 50 test matches for Australia and is a very consistent performer, averaging 29.87 with the ball and taking 198 wickets.
In Starc, they already have a 90mph left-arm bowler and in Hazlewood, a lot of comparisons have been made to Glenn McGrath but he is not quite as consistent as he needs to be.
During the Ashes series, many people felt that Siddle should have played at the beginning as a like-for-like replacement for Harris, but the selectors opted for Hazlewood instead, much to the dismay of many pundits and Australian supporters.
James Pattinson has been called into the squad alongside Siddle and those two will fight it out to step into the shoes of Johnson.
The Victoria paceman has played 13 tests, taking 51 wickets at an average of 27.07 and is described by Brydon Coverdale of Cricinfo as “a strong fast bowler who hits the bat hard” and will work well alongside Starc, Hazlewood and Marsh.
He also has a very good record in Sheffield Shield cricket, taking 140 wickets in 35 first class games at an average of 24.84 with six dismissals from two matches so far this year.
However, he does have fitness issues and has been unable to play back-to-back first-class games since the 2013 Ashes.
With Hazlewood a fitness doubt for the next game due to the sheer amount of bowling he has had to do, both Siddle and Pattinson could return.
Talking of injuries, 22-year-old Pat Cummins has had his short career blighted by injury with his most recent return being cut short by a stress fracture in his back.
To date, Cummins has only played one test match four years ago in 2011 against South Africa, taking seven wickets aged only 18.
He is a great talent who can reach over 90 mph and if he is able to shake off all the injuries and stay consistently fit for a good amount of time he certainly has the ability to fill the shoes left by Johnson.
It is incredibly frustrating for a man of such talent like Cummins to be sidelined so much by injury, but he just needs to continue his recovery and with a bit of luck he will stay injury-free long enough to cement a place in the Australian side.
Even though Australia already have a very good left arm quick in Starc, should the selectors want a like-for-like replacement for Johnson then James Faulkner may well be the route they decide to go.
He has only played one test match so far in his career but has 44 ODIs to his name in which he has taken 60 wickets at an average of 30.25.
Faulkner also adds a different dimension with his batting ability, having four ODI half centuries and one century to his name. Recently he has been given a ban for drink-driving whilst he was playing domestically for Lancashire and is yet to make a return to international cricket.
His last game for Australia was the World Cup final in which he was named the man of the match after taking a five-wicket haul. He is a very good performer as shown in his limited-overs exploits and it would not be a surprise to see him add to his solitary test cap.
Doug Bollinger is also a left-arm seamer and would add experience to the bowling attack - in the same way Peter Siddle would - being 34-years-old. He played his last test in 2010 and has taken 50 wickets at an average of 25.92 from 12 matches.
He has made a great start to the Sheffield Shield season this year, taking seven wickets in his most recent game for New South Wales against Tasmania.
He also featured eight times for NSW last year and took 24 wickets at an average of 25.12.
Bollinger obviously only has an outside chance, but with injury doubts concerning Hazlewood, Cummins ruled out for the foreseeable future and concerns over Pattinson’s ability to play back-to-back games, the 34-year-old may well be back in with a shout in the very near future.
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