Johnson''s workload to ease on Oz tour of South Africa

Johnson''s workload to ease on Oz tour of South AfricaMelbourne, Feb. 15 : Australian cricket team coach Tim Nielsen has said that he plans to reduce the workload of fast bowler Mitchell Johnson during the tour of South Africa, which gets underway from Monday.

The vastly improved Johnson has emerged as Australia''s beacon of hope, ripping through the Proteas to take 17 wickets in three Tests at 25.88. But the Queenslander''s rise to Australia''s top-dog quick has coincided with a gruelling workload.

Fformer Test bowlers Andy Bichel and Bruce Reid fear that 27-year-old Johnson is being pushed to breaking point.

Nielsen while admitting that Johnson can expect an arduous South African tour; however insists he will not be burnt out.

"One of our greatest challenges on this tour is to keep a guy like Mitch fresh. Mitch has done his fair share of bowling but that''s why he had a break at the start of the one-dayers. Once we get to South Africa, we''ll look after him - we''ll make sure he gets enough work into his body to be ready to go for the Tests," Fox Sports quoted Nielsen, as saying.

A Test greenhorn 15 months ago, Johnson''s importance to the Australia attack has never been more critical. He has bowled more than 50 overs in each of his past three Tests, prompting calls from Reid and Bichel to ease the strain on Johnson.

But with fellow quicks Peter Siddle and Doug Bollinger sharing just five Tests and 19 wickets and Ben Hilfenhaus untried in Test cricket, the left-armer will again be Ponting''s man for any crisis in South Africa.

Australia''s bowling coach, Troy Cooley, said Johnson would be placed on a tailored management program, and he backed Siddle to shoulder the bowling burden. (ANI)