FORMER Australia captain Kim Hughes says Warriors paceman Mitchell Johnson has every right to feel “aggrieved” at his Ashes omission.
Johnson, the only WA player among Cricket Australia’s latest contract holders, was overlooked for both the Ashes and Australia A squads for the July-August tour, with selectors opting for a pace battery consisting of James Faulkner, Mitchell Starc, James Pattinson, Jackson Bird and Ryan Harris.
Johnson was included in an extended squad that was whitewashed 4-0 in the recent tour of India, but was among the group of four ruled unavailable for the Third Test following the “homework” debacle, leaving him with having played just the fourth match.
Hughes backed Johnson to re-enter the side for the second Ashes series, starting in Australia in November, but said the fast bowler’s presence in India was a “waste of time” that played a role in him not being selected for the upcoming tour.
“This is where it’s disappointing for Mitch; if I was him, I’d be spewing at the fact they took that many players to India, knowing they couldn’t play them,” Hughes said.
“He should have been back here playing Shield cricket, that’s the reality.
“He either shouldn’t have gone, or he should have been sent home, so that, instead of sitting over there twiddling his thumbs, he was back here getting a regular game.
“(Ryan) Harris got into the Australian side, not by being in India, but because he played in a Shield final.
“I wouldn’t discount Mitchell Johnson for the next Ashes series, absolutely, he’s only 31, but I feel he’s got every right to be a bit aggrieved at the fact he sat over there, didn’t get an opportunity and would have been better back here playing Shield cricket.
“It was a waste of time.”
None of WA’s players made the cut for the Ashes, a fact Hughes said was “no surprise”, but teenager Ashton Agar was named in the Australia A team.
Hughes said the state’s prospects were equally dim for the return series at the end of the year, but named young batsman Sam Whiteman and Warriors captain Adam Voges as contenders.
He also said Agar – as bright a prospect as he is – faced an uphill battle for selection, with a two-pronged spin attack not in Australia’s game plan.
“Sam Whiteman is a real prospect,” Hughes said. “I look at him as having more chance of playing for Australia than anyone else in Western Australia, apart from Adam Voges.
“I thought Nathan Lyon came away from India having done very well and he would have learnt a lot from it, so, Ashton Agar will have to be very good (to get a spot).
“I thought the only bloke who had a chance (for the July series) was Adam Voges, who had a very good year in Shield cricket and did well for Australia in the one day game.
“There will be casualties from England, no doubt about that, so if Voges can get off to a good Sheffield Shield start, he’s every chance.”