Under the radar

By AARON KELLY

LIGHTNING fast Queensland Bulls bowler Mitchell Johnson doesn't mind flying under the radar.

Johnson, 23, is preparing to swing into another cricket summer starting in Rockhampton next weekend with the Suncorp XXXX Gold Bulls Country Challenge.

The Townsville product has been named alongside former internationals Andy Bichel, Nathan Hauritz and Ashley Noffke in the country team to play city in a one-day match and Twenty20 game.

However, Rockhampton fans could miss out on seeing the Johnson express, with the leftarm fast bowler on stand-by to tour Pakistan with Australia A this month.

With South Australian firebrand Shaun Tait tipped to play in the final Test of the Ashes series, Johnson is a chance of receiving a late call-up and will find out his immediate playing future by early next week.

Plagued by constant back problems in recent years, Johnson has set his sights on establishing himself in the Bulls' pace attack this season.

"Either way, I just want to play as much cricket as possible,'' Johnson said.

"It's pretty exciting for myself, but I'm not getting my hopes up.''

Johnson, who Dennis Lillee once rated as Australia's most exciting bowler since Brett Lee, only recently returned home from the Commonwealth Bank Centre of Excellence tour of India and Sri Lanka.

Johnson was one of the stars alongside former Gladstone player Nathan Reardon for the Australian development side.

Like Johnson five seasons ago, Reardon has been rewarded with a rookie contract during the offseason. The Bulls arrive in Rockhampton on Friday and kick off their tour with a Sportsmen's Dinner at the Frenchville Sports Club from 7.30pm.

The two teams will play a 50over match on Saturday then have their first taste of Twenty20 cricket on Sunday.

"It's an exciting brand of cricket, especially for the spectators,'' Johnson said.

"It also adds a bit of fun for the guys, but not for us bowlers.



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