South Africa in Australia 2008-09 December 12, 2008

Johnson backs Australia in pace race

Cricinfo staff

Mitchell Johnson, who now lives in Perth, is preparing for his first Test against South Africa © AFP

Mitchell Johnson has no doubt Australia will win the exciting battle of speed with South Africa at the WACA from Wednesday. Five of the world's top ten bowlers will be on display in the opening Test of the series on what should be the quickest pitch of the contest.

"I back our attack," he said in the Australian. "There's obviously going to be a little bit of niggle there with their pace, our pace, their top order, our top order. They can talk as much as they like but we're just going to go out there and bowl like we've been bowling."

Johnson, who is ranked No. 8, said the attack improved during the 2-0 win over New Zealand and was comfortable in home conditions. "I'm looking forward to the contest," he said. "I know it's going to be a great series. They've been talking up their bowlers a little bit but I think our attack is something to look forward to as well. You've got Brett Lee and Stuart Clark - two classy bowlers."

Clark is third on the Test rankings, two spots ahead of Lee. The South Africans have Dale Steyn, who is in second, and Makhaya Ntini (fourth) alongside Morne Morkel, who picked up an ankle injury in the tour opener against Western Australia.

The WACA is now Johnson's home ground after an off-season move from Queensland to Western Australia and one of his new bosses is Dennis Lillee, the man who spotted him as a teenager in Townsville. Johnson saw Lillee on Thursday and asked for advice on dealing with the pitch.

"We just spoke about how things have been going for me at the moment and also just bowling at the WACA," he said in the Sydney Morning Herald. "It's somewhere where you've got to make the batsmen play. If you're bowling outside the off stump, it's pretty easy to leave here. We just spoke about a few little things like that."

It will be the first time Johnson, who has played 15 Tests, will face South Africa in the long form of the game. "I guess it's going to be pretty exciting for me to bowl to their top order," he said. "They've had some good performers there. It's a bit of a look-and-see for them. They've only faced me in the one-day [arena]."