Johnson's omission sees Ponting point at selectors

Australia captain Ricky Ponting was notably equivocal about the decision to drop Mitchell Johnson for today's second Ashes Test match in Adelaide.

Doug Bollinger is the probable like-for-like replacement, with Ryan Harris – the second pace-bowling reinforcement called up after the drawn Test in Brisbane – also in the reckoning, possibly at the expense of Ben Hilfenhaus.

In one breath, Ponting appeared to endorse the decision to give Johnson a break after his match figures of 0-170 at the Gabba.

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Yet in his next, he left it open to question what his personal thoughts on the matter might be.

"The selectors felt he was down on a bit of form and down on a bit of rhythm," said Ponting yesterday, after confirming Johnson's controversial release from Australia's 13-man squad.

"That was highlighted in the last game - and as we all know, the game of Test match cricket is hard enough as it is without having to try and find those things in the middle of a Test match.

"You just know if guys are in good touch or not, and we'll see that pretty clear with Mitchell when he comes back."

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But asked to explain why bowlers often appear to be given fewer opportunities than batsmen to hang on to their place, he replied: "Good question, you'll have to ask (national selection panel chairman) Andrew Hilditch that."

Ponting also took the opportunity to explain the constitution of Australia's selection panel, and his apparent advisory role.

"I'm not a selector," he said.

"We have four selectors, and I'm not one – and nor is the coach. When it's big decisions like this, they are wholly and solely made by the selection panel.

"Of course, they ask for my input and that of the coach, but at the end of the day they make decisions. Sometimes it doesn't matter what I think."

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Even so, Ponting duly explained the reasoning behind releasing Johnson.

"We wouldn't make changes if we didn't think it would make the attack better for this game," he added.

"We've got the best five bowlers we could possibly have to get 20 wickets in each game."

One of them may yet be Harris, whose knee injury – described last month by physio Alex Kountouris as "chronic" – is no longer a concern.

"We're not worried about Ryan's knee at all," said Ponting.

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Johnson added: "It's obviously disappointing but it's not the end of the world.

"We've still got lots of Tests to go in this series, and I'm going to be working my way back to get into the team and hope to be a big part of it."

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