March 17, 2009

Australian cricket

Johnson learns not to annoy Jessica

Brydon Coverdale



When the wives and girlfriends joined the touring squad in Cape Town over the weekend, most of the Australian players indulged in a bit of romantic sightseeing or some retail therapy. If the men were holding bags they were likely Prada or Louis Vuitton. Not so for Mitchell Johnson.

His girlfriend Jessica Bratich enjoys a bit of fashion, as she revealed at the Allan Border Medal, but she also happens to be a karate champion. While he was enjoying a break from Test cricket this week, Johnson found himself holding a punching bag for Bratich and things got a little dangerous for Australia’s key bowler.

“She actually did punch me in the gut yesterday,” Johnson said on Monday. “She was doing 30 punches really quickly and as she was getting a bit slower she hit me in the gut. I might have said something, I don’t know.

“She’s looking to go to the world titles next year in Serbia. She’s got a few tournaments this year. I think there’s one in India as well. It’s a funny thing, she’s wanted to come to India with me on a few occasions but hasn’t had the chance so I think she’d enjoy it.”

At least Johnson could laugh about his hit to the stomach. There wasn’t a smile on Michael Clarke’s face on Monday when he took a ball to the, ah, midriff during Australia’s net session at Newlands and went down like a sack of particularly tender potatoes.

Perhaps Johnson and Clarke can have a debate about whether it’s more embarrassing to be felled by your girlfriend or by a bowling machine. Feeding the balls into the machine was none other than Steve Bernard, the former first-class fast bowler who is now Australia’s team manager. It seems that “Brute” Bernard is still living up to his nickname.

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Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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