Mitchell Johnson's season is almost certainly over as he faces the likely prospect of an operation on his left foot. Johnson could be out for up to five months, which would also rule him out of Australia's next overseas tour to the West Indies next March and April, and the long lay-off will make it hard for him to force his way back into the Test side in the foreseeable future.
At 30, Johnson was already under pressure to hold his place after a disappointing tour of South Africa, where he took 3 for 255 during the two Tests, and in the past 18 months he has taken 35 Test wickets at 45.71. Younger fast men like James Pattinson and Mitchell Starc are now set for a summer of opportunities, along with the teenager Pat Cummins.
Johnson was set to fly to Melbourne on Wednesday to have the injury assessed by a surgical team and Cricket Australia's doctor, Trefor James, and if they determine that surgery is required he will have the operation within a day. Johnson has had a series of investigations and specialist consultations over the past week, after he returned from the tour of South Africa with the problem.
In a statement, Cricket Australia confirmed that the initial specialist advice was that Johnson would require surgery to repair damaged soft-tissue structures around his left big toe.
"Mitchell will travel to Melbourne ... to be reviewed by specialist doctors and will most likely need surgery, which is expected to keep him out of cricket for four to five months," the team physio Alex Kountouris said. "The program for his recovery will be assessed following any surgery."
It was during the Australia's series-levelling victory at the Wanderers that Johnson's foot problem became apparent, when he stumbled while taking off for a run during Australia's chase. Johnson was hobbling for the rest of the innings but stayed at the crease until the target was reached.