Despite being left out of the squad for Austalia's 3-0 Ashes defeat to England this summer, left-arm fast bowler Mitchell Johnson could play a 'big role' in his team's attempt to regain the trophy this winter, according to former player Jason Gillespie.
A combination of strong performances in the limited overs games and a spate of injuries to his fellow bowlers have thrust Johnson into the frame for a return to test cricket.
Having gone for 60 runs without taking a wicket in his last test against India in March, Johnson was dropped for this summer's tour of England, as Australia weren't able to earn a win on their travels.
However, fellow fast bowler Gillespie, a veteran of 71 tests, is adamant that Johnson is capable of making a successful return to the side.
"I spoke to him the other night and he is leaving no stone unturned, working
really hard," said Gillespie.
"He's reverted back to his longer run-up. He's running in slightly differently, his arms are not swinging as much and he is a bit more compact and streamlined running in to bowl.
"That is getting him into a really good position at the crease to unleash the ball. I think he is in a pretty good place and that is improving his consistency."
Johnson's efforts to make these adjustments to his game have coincided with several crucial injuries to Australia's other test match bowlers. In the last month, James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, all of whom featured in this summer's Ashes series, have succumbed to serious injuries.
After questions were asked as to why these injuries to young fast bowlers have become so common, Australia physio Alex Kountouris released a statement on cricket.com.au.
This statement explained that players under the age of 25 were more vulnerable to injury - especially to the spine - due to the fact that their bodies are not fully developed.
Gillespie expressed the belief that these young bowlers will increasingly have to choose between playing test and limited-overs cricket - Peter Siddle, the only Australian bowler to play in all five Ashes tests, has not played in a limited-overs international since 2010.
"I think we will see more and more fast bowlers around the world who will only commit themselves to one or two forms of the game," concluded Gillespie.
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