Coach Lehmann puts the Heat on pace bowler Mitchell Johnson
BRISBANE Heat coach Darren Lehmann was delighted to have signed pace bowler Mitchell Johnson for the coming Big Bash League season, but would be just as happy if the left-armer did not play too many games.
The man they call Boof has not lost his mind, he is merely supporting Johnson to make it back into the Australian Test team.
Johnson has not played in the baggy green since injuring ligaments in his left big toe in November last year.
When asked whether he hoped to have Johnson for the majority of the BBL competition, Lehmann said: "Personally, yes. Professionally, no. I hope he plays for Australia.
"But we're very happy to have him at the Heat and whatever role he plays for us will be very valuable."
Johnson, 31 on Friday, signed with the Perth Scorchers last BBL season but did not play a game because of the injury. He has played 34 T20 matches and taken 38 wickets at 22.10, with an economy rate of 7.15.
Although he has been left out of Australia's 12-man squad for the first Test against South Africa starting next week, but Johnson is very much in the minds of national selectors.
While Peter Siddle, Ben Hilfenhaus, James Pattinson and Mitchell Starc have been named in the squad for the Test, which starts at the Gabba on Friday week, chairman of selectors John Inverarity says Johnson is in the frame for later matches.
"Mitchell Johnson, in his first two (Sheffield) Shield matches in Perth ... his action was good and he bowled well," Inverarity said.
Johnson said he remained strongly committed to playing for Australia in all formats of the game, and after seeing the success of the BBL in its inaugural season, was keen to be a part of the competition this summer.
"I'm enjoying my cricket with the Warriors, and signing with the Heat means I can have a chance to keep playing through December and January, which is the time of year you want to be in action and performing," he said.
"I'm really looking forward to playing at the Gabba and catching up with the boys again."
Johnson is the 16th player to join the Heat. Each team must sign 18 players by November 30. The Heat has already signed Dan Vettori, Alister McDermott, Nathan Hauritz, Dan Christian, Ryan Harris, Ben Cutting, Luke Pomersbach, Chris Lynn, Joe Burns, James Hopes, Chris Hartley, Shane Watson, Kemar Roach, Peter Forrest, Cameron Gannon and Johnson.
One of the two remaining spots will be filled from this year's KFC T20 Challenge, a four-team competition in October and November featuring Queensland Bulls, grade and country players.
The Heat is looking at an overseas player for the final place to fill in for Kiwi Vettori or West Indian Roach when they are unavailable due to national commitments.
A spokesman confirmed yesterday that the franchise had held talks with Englishman Michael Lumb - a Sydney Sixers batsman and man of the match in the T20 Champions League final in South Africa.