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Johnson's absence gives England respite . . . for one match, at least

England will get some welcome relief from Mitchell Johnson after the decision was made to rest the fast bowler for the first one-day inter­national in Melbourne on Sunday.

Cricket Australia have opted to give the left-armer time off after he took 37 wickets as man of the series during the 5-0 Ashes whitewash.

"Mitch has had a brilliant summer with the Test side and while he is a crucial member of the ODI squad it is important that he has a bit of a break now," said national selector John Inverarity. "The [National Selection Panel] will be looking to provide a break, also, for most of the players in the ODI squad who played in the Tests against England."

The respite will not last long, though. Darren Lehmann, the Australia coach, confirmed Johnson would return for the second ODI in Brisbane on January 17. "He'll play in Brisbane, definitely," he said. "It's one of his home towns so he'll play there.

"It's obviously been a very big summer for him. So we'll just give him a short little break and make sure he's getting fresh for the other one-dayers. It's important that we put the best side that we possibly can out, but understanding that it's been a hectic five Test matches. Some of the Test boys especially are weary."

Lehmann ruled out the possibility of resting a number of first-choice players in the same game as he looks to start building towards a home World Cup in 12 months' time.

Meanwhile, Kevin Pietersen's Indian Premier League status will be clarified today as debate continues to rage over his future as an England player.

The two matters are not entirely unconnected, with Pietersen's interest in the lucrative Twenty20 tournament frequently straining relations between himself and the England and Wales Cricket Board.

The issue was one of the catalysts for Pietersen's shock limited-overs retirement in 2012 and, though he later reversed that decision, his entire England career is now under the spotlight. Reports this week suggested that team director Andy Flower wanted to call time on the 33-year-old's international days.

Flower responded quickly to dismiss those claims as "totally inaccurate" and called for a "calm and logical" assessment of the series before verdicts were reached.

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