Sri Lanka told to expect 'chin music'
Mitchell Johnson has warmed up for his Test debut by warning Sri Lanka's batsmen to prepare for a string of bouncers at the Gabba. Johnson picked up only two wickets during the tour game in Brisbane, where he was out-bowled by his Queensland team-mate Ashley Noffke, but he felt the pitch prevented him from unsettling the tourists with his short balls.
The Gabba is expected to produce more consistent bounce and Johnson, who was 12th man for the entire 2006-07 Ashes series, wants to take advantage of it. "I probably didn't bowl enough bouncers at them [during the tour game], which I'd love to do out here," he said at the ground. "I'd like a few more short balls to unsettle them."
In the lead-up to the match the Sri Lankans have insisted any problem with this type of bowling is a myth, but Johnson and his team-mates plan to test out the theory from Thursday. "I'm sure they are going to give their fair share [of bouncers] and I'm sure they'll get their fair share back," Johnson said. "Brett Lee is in the side and he bowls quick, so I'm sure there's going to be a bit of chin music out there."
Johnson has not had his place in the team confirmed, but he is ahead of Tasmania's Ben Hilfenhaus and destined to join Lee and Stuart Clark. "Any opportunity would be great, but I'd love to get the new ball," he said. "I get it for Queensland, so that's a strong point for me."
A series of serious back injuries threatened Johnson's career and led to him losing his state contract in 2004. After the demotion he spent a month back home in the north Queensland city of Townsville working out what he wanted to do with the sport. He got healthy and returned with a more aggressive attitude, which has assisted his development into a bowler on the verge of his first Test.
"To be in this situation now, it's a real bonus for me," he said. "I've had to work pretty hard to get here, so I'm quite proud of where I've come."
Peter English is the Australasian editor of Cricinfo