Australian fast bowler Mitchell Johnson has bucked the trend of cricketers of being lured by the lucrative T20 leagues by opting out of the upcoming Big Bash tournament. The southpaw took the decision to keep himself in top form for the big summer series against New Zealand and world number one Test team: India.
The left-armer turned down an offer from Perth Scorchers to represent the side in the Twenty20 Big Bash League (BBL) in order to keep himself fit for one of Australia's most taxing Test match summers.
The 29-year-old felt that it would do him little good to try to squeeze Twenty20 appearances in between home Test series against New Zealand and India, which follow winter and spring tours to Sri Lanka and South Africa.
"At the moment, I've decided not to sign with any of the Twenty20 sides," Johnson told reporters in Brisbane at Australia's training camp.
"The Scorchers approached me and at the moment I'm just happy to focus on the summer coming up," the bowler said.
Johnson's move, however, will have an impact on Cricket Australia's (CA) attempt to add stars to the league in order to push the game's audience and revenue.
The cricketer, meanwhile, wants to go back to grade cricket when he gets the chance.
"With India coming over, they're obviously a strong side, and it might give me a chance also to go back to grade cricket if the opportunity's there.
"We've got a big summer coming up, Sri Lanka first, then South Africa, they're going to be big Tests for us in their home towns and a big summer here, so that's where my main focus is," Johnson insisted.
"I'm just going to take it one step at a time. We're playing Sri Lanka; I haven't played a Test series there; we've got the T20s and one-dayers first. It's a big summer; I'm just going to take it one tour at a time and I'm looking forward to the challenges in Sri Lanka," Johnson said.
"I know the wickets are pretty flat and it's quite hot over there as well. They've got Kumar Sangakkara in unbelievable form, Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan can go off at any time; they've got such a great side," he added.
Johnson is aware of the demanding job ahead and has been training hard during the off-season, rejuvenating his body for the long days in the field that can be expected against good batting sides such as Sri Lanka or India.
"I'm feeling pretty good at the moment. I've got plenty of years in me. I don't know if I'm reaching my peak now, but I'm always working as hard as I can to be as strong as I can and as fit as I can.
"That's why it's been a good break for me. I've been able to go back and do a bit of running, do a lot of strength work and just do different things outside of cricket. So I feel very strong at the moment," Johnson said.