Lehmann casts doubt on Johnson's World T20 participation

By Nick Mulvenney

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Mitchell Johnson's hopes of playing in the Twenty20 World Cup looked to be fading on Sunday when Australia coach Darren Lehmann cast doubt on whether the paceman would be fit enough to travel to Bangladesh.

Johnson, whose quick bowling fired Australia to a 5-0 Ashes sweep and a 2-1 test series triumph in South Africa over the last few months, has been struggling for fitness after a cut on the big toe on his right foot became infected.

The initial prognosis was that his departure for the March 16-April 6 tournament would only be delayed but clearly Johnson was not making the sort of progress originally envisioned as he received treatment in Perth.

"He's still not great so we'll make a decision in the next couple of days," Lehmann told the Cricket Australia website from South Africa on Sunday.

"If he's not healthy enough to travel, he won't travel. The medicos are all over that back home and here so we'll have to wait a couple of days to see how he responds to antibiotics and all that.

"Health is a bit more important than a game of cricket so, if we have to cover him, we'll cover him."

Johnson is a top quality performer in the shortest form of the game and his absence would be a blow to Australia's hopes of finally snaring the one major international cricket trophy they have never won.

James Pattinson, Ben Cutting and Josh Hazlewood are among the pace bowlers who would be in the frame for a call-up if Johnson is not able to travel.

All-rounder James Faulkner, who missed the test tour of South Africa because of knee surgery, was another injury doubt but is expected to be fit to play.

Australia open their campaign against Pakistan in Mirpur on March 23.

(Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)

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