Australia in India, 2012-13

Indian affection pushes Johnson to centre-stage

Daniel Brettig

February 11, 2013

Comments: 72 | Text size: A | A

Mitchell Johnson took two top-order wickets to peg Sri Lanka back, Australia v Sri Lanka, 3rd Test, Sydney, 3rd day, January 5, 2013
"All us fast bowlers have been given an SG ball to play with and we've been working on that" © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Mitchell Johnson
Series/Tournaments: Australia tour of India
Teams: Australia | India

For his durability, experience and current run of strong form, Mitchell Johnson is looming as a central player in Australia's plans for the Test matches against India.

There is something else that will also enhance Johnson's chances of taking on a major role for the tourists, an attitude more so than an attribute. Johnson enjoys bowling in India, loves the feel provided by the SG ball, and has no qualms whatsoever about the adversity destined to be faced by all fast men on the subcontinent.

Across six Test matches in India, Johnson's returns have been serviceable rather than spectacular - 21 wickets at 37.23 - but he has developed an affinity for the region and its conditions. The captain Michael Clarke and the coach Mickey Arthur value his ability to deliver long spells and summon the occasional burst of reverse swing, despite conditions that could not be more different from Johnson's happiest hunting ground at the WACA.

If Johnson is yet to play in a winning Test match in India, on at least one occasion he should have. The 2010 Mohali Test ended in a one-wicket victory for the hosts, yet with a few runs still required Johnson pinned Pragyan Ojha for the plumbest of LBW shouts, only to have the umpire Billy Bowden deny the appeal. That day, the SG ball sat comfortably in Johnson's left hand, and it did again recently when he began training with it again in preparation for the tour.

"I love bowling with the SG ball. It's a nice feel in the hands, it's a bit thin at the seam but it stands up taller," Johnson said. "In their conditions over there what I've learned is the ball really doesn't swing. The last couple of times I've been there, watching the Indians they bowl a lot across the seam for 10-12 overs, and then they seem to really get into the rough side, getting a bit of sweat into it and shine the other side, and getting reverse swing. That's something I've picked up over there.

"Reverse swing is a very hard thing to face, so that'll be something we'll be trying our best to do … I'm sure the guys are already practising it over there. I've had SG balls at training sessions. I actually went back to club training while we were in Perth and bowled with an SG ball over there and it started to do a few things early on. All us fast bowlers have been given an SG ball to play with and we've been working on that. I'm looking forward to getting into that practice game [in Chennai] and seeing if it all works."

Australian knowledge of how to bowl fast in India reached a peak in 2004 when the visitors won the series 2-1, breaking a drought that stretched back to 1969-70. However those lessons had been all but lost by the time Ricky Ponting's team returned in 2008, when none of the bowlers seemed to have any clue about how to get the ball moving.

Their coach Troy Cooley appeared even less an authority on the topic, and the vistors' eyes widened at how often India's bowlers ignored the conventional seam-up approach and had the ball reverse swinging inside a handful of overs. Since then a little more know-how has been gained, and Johnson said he had taken time to watch footage of Zaheer Khan by way of refreshing his memory.

"It does go [reverse] early, and with a hard reverse swinging ball it does make it even harder to face I think," Johnson said. "I've been watching Zaheer Khan bowl, he's an unbelievable left-arm bowler, and just watching the way he bowled over in their conditions. When the ball's reverse swinging when it's hard and then bouncing through a bit more it's very difficult, and he's had a lot of success over there.

"Hopefully a few other guys like Peter Siddle have learned from that and are going to take that into the tour. We've got a few fast bowlers over there but I'll be pushing as hard as I can to get into that first XI. It's a great thing to have for Australian cricket in a Test series over in India, very difficult conditions to bowl in as a fast bowler. I love the challenge of bowling over there in those conditions, against a great side. There'll be some fiery net sessions I'm sure."

"Our quicks have put us where we are. In these conditions, we shouldn't ignore that. Just because you're playing in different conditions, your strength is still your strength." Australia's assistant coach Steve Rixon

While Australia's selection of a 17-man squad has provided the team with a wide array of options, there is a view within the team that to load up with spin in deference to the slow, low surfaces likely to be on offer would detract from the great strength of pace bowling that has helped lift the team to third in the ICC's Test rankings since Clarke became captain.

Steve Rixon, the assistant coach, is adamant that high quality pace bowling will be as difficult for India's batsmen to face as wily spin will be vexing for Australia. Though not a selector, he counselled those choosing the team for the first Test in Chennai not to sap an area Australia is strong simply because it is the done thing in India.

"That's one thing we keep forgetting about," Rixon said. "We talk about swinging the ball up front and reverse-swing during the game is very important. But having tall bowlers hitting the deck hard at 145 (km/h) is equally as hard for any Asian player to combat as it would be for our guys to combat their spin bowling.

"We're going to have a distinct advantage with our quick bowlers. Our quick bowlers will play a part and it will be the fact that they hit the deck hard - whether [selectors] have a leaning towards your spinners, which I'm thinking is going away from our strength. But I don't make that decision. Our quicks have put us where we are. In these conditions, we shouldn't ignore that. Just because you're playing in different conditions, your strength is still your strength."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by Someguy on (February 13, 2013, 23:36 GMT)

@laxmanrules - you haven't been paying much attention, Watson is not bowling. He has given up bowling until he gets his body and batting sorted, but given how well Henriques bowled in the first tour match, he could be a very valuable addition to the team. Unfortunately, in Indian conditions, I don't think most matches will see 3 specialist fast bowlers. 2 quicks, 2 spinners and Henriques as an allrounder, I don't think they will go with Maxwell as an allrounder, they will want variety in the spin attack. Smith is a maybe, but I don't think they have taken him as an allrounder, I believe he is there as a batsman as he has hardly bowled this summer.

If they only go with 1 specialist spinner, I expect to see Clarke and Warner bowling rather than Maxwell.

Posted by popcorn on (February 13, 2013, 14:40 GMT)

The Indians won't know what hit them when Mitch hustles them.

Posted by laxmanrules on (February 12, 2013, 21:21 GMT)

Looking forward to see what the Australian pace attack does. With Siddle, Bird, Starc, Johnson and Watson (yes!) this is among the best fast bowling attacks to have come to India in the past 10 years. I am afraid we might lose this one at home too. This will be another trial by fire for Indian opening batsmen and I pray at least one of them go on to get big scores. Cannot wait to see the youngsters on both sides make a name for themselves here. It's India Vs Australia and reputations will be made!

Posted by ozziespirit on (February 12, 2013, 15:39 GMT)

Pick Johnson for India, that's fine, but not for the Ashes. Too many painful memories for him and aussie fans like myself would overshadow it and built unneccesary pressure on him. England tore him apart then, and if they do it again which they may well, it could be the end for him. Bird/Starc/Siddle for the Ashes.

Posted by Meety on (February 12, 2013, 6:04 GMT)

@dunger.bob on (February 11, 2013, 23:51 GMT) - I think Finn is a very good talent (a bloke I didn't rate during the Ashes), & I think fully fit, Bresnan & Tremlett are quality. The advantage England has, is that most of their frontline pace attack have more experience so you sort of know what level of skill they'll deliver. With Oz, most of our pace talent is raw (MJ & Siddle excepted) & there will be variable performances. I believe that IF you assume both sides pacers play to their best ability (Eng - Anderson, Finn & Broad) v (Oz Siddle + anyone of about 5 or 6 others), Oz pacers are better - they do what Eng do but faster & we have genuine left hand options - Eng don't. Unfortunately in 2009, Oz had the 3 best pacers over the course of the Ashes (Hilfy, Siddle & MJ). So it will really need to be a team effort to get across the line - no drop catches!

Posted by Shaggy076 on (February 12, 2013, 4:30 GMT)

Jayzuz - Thats a pretty good summation. We are going in to the unknown with new players untested in Indian and English conditions but there is certainly enough talent there for Australians to be optimistic of success on both tours. That put together with our never say die attitude in the face of adversity as we have shown over the last 14 months (particularly against a South African team that man for man look a far better unit than the Aussies), I am really looking forward to both series. The result of each only time will tell.

Posted by Photoelectric on (February 12, 2013, 4:26 GMT)

Mitchell has been in good form recently and should have selection for at least 2 tests, his batting has been good of late too so he can very easily take the role of the number 8.

Posted by handyandy on (February 12, 2013, 2:48 GMT)

Australia has to go with its strength which is its fast bowling. Lyon and perhaps Maxwell as the allrounder will take care of the spin.

On recent form Siddle, Johnson and Stark would be my three pacemen.

Posted by Clyde on (February 12, 2013, 2:41 GMT)

I assume that what they mean is they will actually bowl at the wicket. I don't think Oz should forget about the wicket.

Posted by bhaloniaz on (February 12, 2013, 0:42 GMT)

Ishant is getting consistent and B. Kumar is a great addition. Two quicks and two good spinners are good combo for india. Australia may need to play two spinners. John should not be picked for top two bowlers. He should only play if australia picks Siddle, Strac, Johnson, Lyon and another spinner (or allrounder). I would pick Starc, Bird, Siddle, Harris, Pattinson over him.

Posted by redneck on (February 12, 2013, 0:34 GMT)

i fully believe this series will be hinging on winning the toss and batting first! espechally in madras and the kotla as both pitches fall apart well before they should in a test match. batting first & post 400, then it shouldnt matter about spin or pace as the wicket will have inconsistent bounce by the end of day 2 start of day 3. i would like to think 3rd times the charm in mohali as the last 2 tours have bought us one drubbing when sachin belted us on the way to overtaking lara and one narrow loss that as the author pointed out had a dodgy ending. note indian fans how umpiring can go both ways!!! and you didnt hear us crying foul after that match, we didnt have bowden removed as an umpire either unlike that storm in a tea cup you guys created in syd a few years back!!!

Posted by Jayzuz on (February 12, 2013, 0:06 GMT)

Interestingly Lyon has taken 32 wickets in his last 7 tests, which is quite decent. People simply remember the times he didn't take wickets. One of the interesting things about these 2 tours to IND and ENG is the unknowns. There are a lot of inexperienced players who might fail, or who might prosper. The doomsdayers simply say it's all bad and everyone is a sure-fire failure. But the truth is that there are plenty of guys with lots of potential - Warner, Hughes, Khawaja (maybe), Starc, Bird. They are all match winners on their day, and can change the course of a game in a session or less. But it is more potential than guarantee. But that potential is there. Add other proven match winners like Watson and Clarke, and there is a decent chance they might do well. But it could go either way. Still, it is highly unlikely that all these players will simply fail all the time, which seems to be what some are assuming will happen. I have to say that the English appear to be way overconfident.

Posted by PPD123 on (February 11, 2013, 23:57 GMT)

@drvvs - well said about Ishant's dismissal and Daniel Brettig would do well to look at that match's score card. Even Gautam Gambhir was given out LBW when he was hit outside the line of off and also has a big inside edge. So basically him suggesting that Aus lost the match due to Billy bowden's error is all hogwash and also takes away the sheen from the brilliance of Laxman's innings. If ever there was a match won by a team due to umpiring errors, it was the sydney gate of 2008 when the match officials made 14 blunders... and I repeat 14 blunders to gift Aus the match after them on the ropes at 134/6... check that score card and commentary as well for evidence...

Posted by dunger.bob on (February 11, 2013, 23:51 GMT)

@ Damo_s on (February 11, 2013, 12:02 GMT) : "England only started winning when they played 2 quality spinners. One would think that the Aussies would learn from this and do the same." .. everywhere I look I see comments like this. Looks fair enough on the surface but here's something no Englishman (or Indian for that matter) seems to have considered. ... from afar it seemed to me that England were more or less forced into it because they've only got one decent pace man. Swinging Jimmy is obviously a class act but the other two were rubbish. Free runs everywhere. ... I contend that far from being a brilliant strategy showcasing Englands depth of talent and horses for courses selection policy, it was actually just dumb luck that they stumbled upon accidentally. .. I further put it to the jury that Australia's pace attack is MUCH better than anything England can currently muster and the Indians will not find them as easy to cope with. ... how's that sound?

Posted by Beertjie on (February 11, 2013, 23:00 GMT)

Spot on @luks on (February 11, 2013, 7:27 GMT) Also SherjilIslam on (February 11, 2013, 8:11 GMT). I like your team @landl47 except for Pattinson. I'd have Starc instead. My only worry is the extra rough two lefties will create for Harbhajan and Ashwin. My worry, like that of other posters, is the lengths they bowl. But Starc has a devastating yorker and Pattinson needs time to get back in it. The tosses will be all important.

Posted by Chris_P on (February 11, 2013, 22:39 GMT)

@landl47. We will be doing it tough, real tough, but to have the experience for the coming years will be invaluable. Prior to your side's successful tour to India, they suffered some tough tests & were the recipients of some exaggerated taunts by many of the Indian posters prior to the tests. It is clear many here have not played this game seriously, otherwise they would appreciate how circumstances change every time you bat, bowl or field. Although I think they will pick him, personally I wouldn't have MJ in my team as I rate Starc, Bird, Siddle & ahead of him. Bird could well be the surprise packet given his tight line, movement & bounce from his height, not unlike McGrath in build. The batting is the bigger problem for us though.

Posted by blink182alex on (February 11, 2013, 21:46 GMT)

Our quicks will need to get the ball to reverse to really prosper. If you look back at our last asian test tour away to Sri Lanka in 2011, it was Ryan Harris that was our best bowler, whilst Shane Watson also got the ball to reverse and picked up wickets, shame we won't be able to call upon their bowling services.

They shouldn't get carried away with trying to bang it in short, it was the full length that Craig McDermott made our quicks employ that proved successful in our climb back up the rankings. Also, we have to try and play to our strength, for example like South Africa, they would play Morkel, Steyn and Philander in India as they are their best bowlers.

Posted by Rahulbose on (February 11, 2013, 21:15 GMT)

I am watching out for Clarke. He will make a truck load of runs against this Indian bowling unit. Aus have a great chance for a series win in India.

Posted by Essex_Man on (February 11, 2013, 21:10 GMT)

Mitch to the rescue?! Hilarious! Talk about scraping the barrel.

Posted by inthisthread on (February 11, 2013, 21:06 GMT)

ITT: Nervous Englishman. You're not involved in this series boys, just wait your turn.

Posted by   on (February 11, 2013, 20:22 GMT)

The only series Australia has won in India it did with it's usual type of attack - 3 quicks (Gillespie, McGrath and kasprowicz, in order of wickets), and a spinner (Warne, who took 14 wickets/Haurtitz 5) Gillespie was the standard with 20 wickets @ 16, but the other quicks and spinners did well. We don't have that class of batsmen, but I'm not sure India has the same class of batsmen (nor do we!) it will be a different series, we can only play the best we have, as can India - let's see what happens rather than argue who will do what.

Posted by landl47 on (February 11, 2013, 18:14 GMT)

Comments on comments: @Elvin: as an Aussie, you should know that Cummins hasn't played a first-class match since 2011 and isn't in the squad.

@Mitty: Lyon didn't play in the 2010/11 series, in which Swann got 15 wickets at an average of 39.8 and the Aussie spinners (including Doherty) got 5 wickets between them at an average of 135.8. I like Lyon, but as of now he has 61 wickets in 19 games, average 32. Wait till he has better figures than 212 wickets in 50 tests at an average of 29 before comparing them- but don't hold your breath. Besides, if Lyon's problem was the incompetence of Wade, then hasn't he got even more of a problem on wickets where the ball turns sharply and the W/K is still Wade?

@gsingh7: Finn played in only one test and got 4-118 in the match, which England won by 7 wickets. Luckily for India he was injured and couldn't play more. I'd be interested to know- do you ever get anything right?

Posted by xylo on (February 11, 2013, 17:55 GMT)

Oh boy! How have the mighty fallen! And I am talking about Australia and India here. Australia, for having to count on the likes of Johnson for a critical job, and the Indian batsmen who are likely to fail against the likes of an inconsistent Johnson.

Posted by landl47 on (February 11, 2013, 17:42 GMT)

Johnson and the other quicks will have to learn to adjust their length in India- short stuff there is not dangerous, it's long hops sitting up to be hit. Given his experience, I think the selectors will likely play Johnson in the first test along with Siddle. After those two and Lyon, it gets a bit murky. The first decision is the batting line-up- do both Cowan and Khawaja play? If they do, there's only room for one more bowler. If not, there's room for an allrounder plus another bowler. That could be either a seamer plus Maxwell, or Doherty plus Henriques.

My gut feeling is that Aus will go with a side close to that which played against Sri Lanka and SA. That means Cowan, Warner, Hughes, Watson, Clarke, Khawaja, Wade, Johnson, Pattinson, Siddle, Lyon. Clarke might have to bowl some overs, which makes his injured hammy even more of a problem. However, it gives them 7 lhbs in the top 9, and since Ojha was hands-down the best bowler India had against Eng, that must be good.

Posted by The_Heavy_Ball on (February 11, 2013, 17:13 GMT)

When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Australia have no spinners worthy of the name, so they're going to rely solely on pace. It might work, but it's a high risk strategy and I can't help but feel that the Indian batsmen will be feasting on back of a length deliveries that sit up nicely on slow wickets just ready to be smacked to the fence. 'Hitting the deck hard' simply doesn't work in India; haven't Australia learned that basic lesson yet?

Posted by Selassie-I on (February 11, 2013, 13:51 GMT)

This is fantastic news!! mitch's standard short of a length balls will be useless in India, as demonstrated by his rubbish average there. Bet Sehwag can't wait for some long hops.

Either way, even if he does perform it's good, bring him over to England, we all know he's Alastair Cook's favourite bowler!

Aussie's focus on finding 2 half decent spinners, not on Mitch 'he bowls to the left, he bowls to the riiiiiight...' Johnson.

Posted by wibblewibble on (February 11, 2013, 13:42 GMT)

England beat India because we have two top spinners, and one extremely skillful, accurate and persistent swing bowler. MJ bowling his bag of all sorts will struggle to have success - I love that he is described in the article as a "central player" for Aus, yet later on clarifying that his average in India is 37 and he has not won in 6 attempts there.

There is a real lack of depth in the Aus batting line up now that Hussey and Ponting are gone, Hussey more than Ponting. Hussey invariably helped Aus recover from any collapses, where as Ponting was usually part of the collapse.

Love Rixon saying that the Aus quicks "hit the deck hard", should equate to them bowling short half trackers for the first day or so of the first test, ignoring they get pummelled to the boundary.

Posted by mjcoxx on (February 11, 2013, 13:22 GMT)

@Damo_s - Yes, England started winning when they played two quality spinners. The problem is, Australia doesn't have two quality spinners. Lyon is still a work in progress and Doherty and Maxwell will be eaten alive by the Indians. Clarke is probably the best spin bowler in the group but Australia need him to remain injury free and score runs. Better for the Aussies to play to their strengths - pick three good fast bowlers and Lyon.

Posted by maddy20 on (February 11, 2013, 13:00 GMT)

While Mr.Daniel Brettig mentions the Ojha shout, he has coveniently ignored , Ishant sharma's LBW off a huge inside edge. Nice going mate!

Posted by ravi_hari on (February 11, 2013, 12:38 GMT)

Indians have always been uncomfortable against Left arm fast bowlers. Be is Akram, Azeem, Reid, Selvey, Lever, Sikander Bakt, Jhonson, Starc, you name them Indians have succumbed easily to each one of them. Some were not worth the applause but succeeded against Indians. Hence, Jhonson will find it encouraging to bowl to the present Indian batting lineup. Especially when you have so many new comers who have never faced genuine pace will add a couple of yards of pace to his bowling. Not only that he looks fit and along with Siddle and Starc the trio will make a deadly combination. All three should avoid bowling short as in India they will be despatched very easily. Just bowl full and angle it enough to succeed. Jhonson also has the reverse swing which is an important weapon in the sub-continent and if that is done with good pace becomes unplayable. His experience playing here will also help him guide the others. He will also love batting on the flat tracks and could become an allrounder.

Posted by   on (February 11, 2013, 12:28 GMT)

Indian pitches usually offers very little to fast/swing bowlers. The pitches are mostly dry, slow and flat; hence perfect for spin bowlers. I hope the BCCI gives the nod for lively pitches, which can produce competitive cricket matches. Otherwise, test cricket is already dying in India, if the matches are dull, people will just tune out. All the best to India.

Posted by pratit on (February 11, 2013, 12:19 GMT)

In India, you need a workhorse and not some fragile bowler. Johnson should aiways be an automatic choice here. A strong bowler who always bowls over 140 with a low-armed action is ideal here. As preparation, he could practise by bowling round the stumps to right-handers and maintaining consistent lines.

Posted by Damo_s on (February 11, 2013, 12:02 GMT)

England only started winning when they played 2 quality spinners. One would think that the Aussies would learn from this and do the same.

Posted by KhanMitch on (February 11, 2013, 11:52 GMT)

@Hyclass love your lineup for the first test, i hope we go with that. @Eightfa i think you will find that Khawaja will shine in India as he a classy bat. I would have taken Cosgrove for the likes of Maxwell, Smith and Henriques. .Watson, Warner, Hughes, Khawaja, Clarke, Cossie is a good batting lineup.Warner and Clarke can bowl good spinners for a few overs. Khawaja offers a couple of overs of military off spinners or medium pacers in the mould of M.Hussey or R.Quiney. And once Watson is fit he offers half a dozen overs an innings of partnership-breaking medium pacers. In a 90 over day those four offer 10 overs of relief for the four frontline bowlers, which is plenty.The NSP's obsession with a bits-and-pieces player at no.7 is weakening Australian cricket.

Posted by Micky.Panda on (February 11, 2013, 11:49 GMT)

I think someone who bowls a lot of rubbish like Johnson should be on the bench awaiting injuries to the important bowlers like Bird, Siddle, Starc, Pattinson.

Posted by cric_gates on (February 11, 2013, 11:35 GMT)

Shaggy076@ my dear friend yes i do believe aussie attack is better than india but they suffer in india against india.Predicting 2-0 or 2-1 in the favor of india is just a number.i can be wrong it could go against india too.But to remind it aussies had too counter attck in both bolwing n batting department.Otherwise they will loose d plot.I have no faith in ishant n dinda but i do think bhuvneshwer will be x factor in starting 10-20 overs if he can take 2-3 wicket initially n then lets see what our mediocre spinner can do after that. man without the experience of ponting n hussey auusi will definitly suffer in batting else they have a super talented replacement.

Posted by cric_gates on (February 11, 2013, 11:15 GMT)

Rixon said. "We talk about swinging the ball up front and reverse-swing during the game is very important. But having tall bowlers hitting the deck hard at 145 (km/h) is equally as hard for any Asian player to combat as it would be for our guys to combat their spin bowling. poor Rixon... 145(km/hr) will only feel good playing in mohali..they will definitely suffer in chennai most then delhi n india reverse swing is only solution to dry n spin pitches else get ready to cramped up in chennai heat itself.... well last two tour also aussie were relying on just pace n bounce n see what they got....

Posted by Shaggy076 on (February 11, 2013, 11:07 GMT)

RednwhiteArmy - What terrible record are you eluding to the fact that we have lost 3 games out of our last 22 tests?

Posted by Shaggy076 on (February 11, 2013, 11:04 GMT)

cric-gates ; beautiful summation you say India dont have a quality spinner but because Australia also dont ahve a quality spinner then 2-0 India. Yes Australia dont have Hussey and Ponting but India still have an aging Tendulkar and Sehwag so sort of evens itself out. This Aussie attack has done well in Sri Lanka and West Indies recently and I believe should be more feared than the Indian attack. Bhuneshwar maybe ok but he is debutant and wont put too much fear into the Aussies.

Posted by Eightfa on (February 11, 2013, 11:02 GMT)

Have to agree with inefekt Doherty goes purely on one day form bailey has to be Australia's inform bat and would look great at 6 selectors making it up as they go along Kwaja and smith have little or no international form hope the top order fire we may need Johnson's runs

Posted by Moppa on (February 11, 2013, 11:02 GMT)

@gsingh7 got something right for the first time commenting on this website - reverse swing will be critical in India. I'm not convinced Johnson is a great exponent of reverse, and from limited viewings have never seen Bird do it either (to be fair to him, SL didn't last long enough to require reverse swing in Melbourne). Where @gsingh7 is wrong is that Siddle can reverse the ball, and in fact both ways. Were he a knowledgable cricket fan, he would have seen the reverse Siddle used to get Mathews (away swing) and Samaraweera (in swing) in Hobart. Starc also got some amazing reverse in that game, and Pattinson can do it to. So I think the first three seamers picked come from those guys, with Johnson and Bird providing reliable back up (that is, physically reliable for Johnson, and accurate bowling type reliable for Bird). @Elvin Zammit - so Cummins is going to rock India from his couch? Impressive!

Posted by RednWhiteArmy on (February 11, 2013, 10:51 GMT)

Oh wait, now i get it. Mitchell Johnson is the answer to australia's terrible record. haha

Posted by inefekt on (February 11, 2013, 10:47 GMT)

@cric_gates what do you think the entire article was based on?

Anyway, I can't believe they left Bailey out of the squad. He has a wise head on his shoulders, has leadership experience and possesses a decent first class record (in the context of the other candidates). To be beaten out by the likes of Smith and Henriques is a travesty.

Posted by AidanFX on (February 11, 2013, 10:23 GMT)

@ gsingh7 poor comment - Siddle debuted then - he is a much improved, stronger and more experienced bowler now. Siddle is no Styn - but he is one o the best bowlers in the world at the moment and he is a seriously consistent bowler. He is now very accurate.

Posted by OneEyedAussie on (February 11, 2013, 10:07 GMT)

Mitchell Johnson pivotal? Like he was in '09 ashes? Like he was in 10/11 ashes? Please. He can come in when one of the others gets injured, and I hope we have it in the bag by then.

Posted by cric_gates on (February 11, 2013, 10:01 GMT)

australia have decent pace attack: starc,siddle,jonhson,bird,pattinson....but in indian condition they must not rely only on swing n pace...they hav to learn the art of reverse swing if they want to suceed as a bolwer here.If not then they will be ineffective after 15-20 overs.they should play 2 spinner just like england did... well aussie must be careful of Bhuneshwer kumar who can swing the bowl both way...indian spinner are not good as like monty swan or ajmal but ausie should be careful of ojha... with no ponting hussey n lack of quality spinner i still beleive result should be in the favor of india 2-0 or 2-1....

Posted by   on (February 11, 2013, 9:50 GMT)

Lol .. Watson is a All round player .. see his bowling performance against West Indies and Srilanka in away series of Aussies , he had 5 haulers .. so plz increase ur knowledge buddy

Posted by Matt. on (February 11, 2013, 9:41 GMT)

Johnson's only positive is his durability. Every new seamer that has come into the side in the past 12 months has performed better than him. He should be there as a backup..only if required

Posted by DylanBrah on (February 11, 2013, 9:19 GMT)

"We have Jackson and Starc, and Mitchell Johnson is back and firing, so there will be more plenty more rotations over there. Everyone will get a go," Pattinson said.

Posted by MrKricket on (February 11, 2013, 9:05 GMT)

Would love to see Aus bowlers esp Johnson do well. Here's looking forward to a low scoring series. No draws please!

Posted by electric_loco_WAP4 on (February 11, 2013, 8:57 GMT)

MJ to be the trump card and the major deciding factor in the series..

Posted by gsingh7 on (February 11, 2013, 8:52 GMT)

he is average bowler in india but still better than siddle who was hammered to no end in two 2-0 series losses back to back in 2008 and 2010. he was clobbered by dhoni like he is slow off spinner, as he cant reverse swing just like broad and finn cud do nothing on dead rankturners in recent series. a 4-0 loss to aus awaits

Posted by Kitschiguy on (February 11, 2013, 8:25 GMT)

Haha, I love watching Johnson bowl, it's so funny.

Posted by SherjilIslam on (February 11, 2013, 8:11 GMT)

Whatever he has to Indian conditions he is just an average bowler.I will be surprised to see him in initial playing XI as Siddle,Pattinson and Starc are much better than tried and tested Johnson. I have seen him toiling hard in last series in Bangalore, where Sehwag smashed first ball of the innings for boundary.So the point is, if he is selected for playing XI and opens the bowling, Sehwag will be the happiest man becoz Johnson normally hits the deck hard and in doing so pitches short, which is Sehwag's strength.

Posted by vumpire-republic on (February 11, 2013, 8:11 GMT)

Good attitude from Johnson. And well-remembered by @drvvs -- Ishant's dogged resistance was indeed ended by a blooper.

Posted by Gilliana on (February 11, 2013, 8:07 GMT)

A thrashing beckons on the Indians as they will be playing minus one player, the useless so called Bradman.

Posted by nthuq on (February 11, 2013, 8:06 GMT)

The headline says 'Johnson pivotal to Indian quest'. Honestly, I don't think so. Surely the pecking order should be Siddle and Starc as the front line pacers, with Bird coming in as a possible third seamer, and Pattinson and Johnson purely as like-for-like injury cover to Siddle and Starc respectively. We won in the West Indies largely with a combination of 3 pace/1 spin against a team that is better against pace than spin despite being on slow turners. Taking wickets is as much about psychology as it is about talent, and having a trio of big fast bowlers is going to have a far greater effect than a pair of largely unproven spinners, barring complete dustbowls.

Posted by luks on (February 11, 2013, 7:27 GMT)

Fast bowlers could play a role but not by hitting the deck hard. It would be by swinging the ball. If Rixon doesn't get that right, the bowlers are not going to get much out of it. In Indian pitches, the harder you hit the deck, the easier it sits up to be hit. Johnson is talking about the right thing.

Posted by Jayzuz on (February 11, 2013, 7:08 GMT)

@drvvs. If that had happened to India in Australia, there would have been hell to pay. I like the way the AUS team just moves on,even when fortune goes against them. We certainly can't say the same for the Indian team, and alas the SLankans are now in on the victim act. BTW, M Hussey was given out LBW in both second innings of both tests in that series with the ball heading way down leg. Taking a leaf from Ranatunga, Laxman batted with a runner both innings, but was untroubled to smash it everywhere and win the game. Again, not a complaint from AUS. We just quietly anhililated you 4-0 when u visited AUS.

Posted by Shaggy076 on (February 11, 2013, 6:57 GMT)

Minuszero - Johnson's recent test form has also been very good.

Posted by Mitty2 on (February 11, 2013, 6:55 GMT)

On the actual Indian series: I think Lyon will surprise many. His performance in the carribean and in SL were very good. And his average would be under 30 in Australia on non turning pitches if wade hadn't have been so incompetent. The amount of chances he let go off lyon's bowling is a confidence killer. See SL in Sydney and against SA in Adelaide. It's interesting to see that the long established biggest turner of the ball in swann averages 40 (lol) in Australia and Lyon averages 35.. If only nath was half the spinner as swann is..

My predictions is for Johno to really prosper with his action and re established accuracy, I'm not sure how starc will handle the completely different conditions. Siddle will be useful because of his durabilty, his heart and devotion, and his ability to bowl long spells, these attributes superseding the traditional and supposed needed pure talent.

But imo, bird will be reap the rewards of the impatient Indian batters with his unforgiving line and length

Posted by screamingeagle on (February 11, 2013, 6:55 GMT)

I hope Bhuvaneshwar kumar gets picked. He swings the ball well and looks like he would be a good addition. At least he can do no worse than the current crop of Ishant and Dinda!

Posted by mikey76 on (February 11, 2013, 6:53 GMT)

James Anderson didn't have any trouble swinging the ball over there. But he's got ten times the a ability of that slinger Johnson. If the Indian batsmen get their heads screwed on they really shouldn't have much to fear, Pattinson is the only one who could do real damage but he has an injury cloud hanging over him.

Posted by baskar_guha on (February 11, 2013, 6:48 GMT)

Aussies should look forward to slow turners with nothing for the bowlers. The outfield will be lush to negate reverse swing as Zaheer is out. India, after their England debacle, will be happy with a drawn series.

Posted by   on (February 11, 2013, 6:48 GMT)

Johnson's form in the recent tests was also good, suffer from short memory much? Love when people try to make a point that makes no point under the context of the article.

Posted by   on (February 11, 2013, 6:45 GMT)

i am aussie, but i think guys like cummins, pattinson, starc, johnson, siddle can rock india with the pace and bounce, where india can rock us with ojha ashwin and singh. Gonna be an intriguing battle

Posted by MinusZero on (February 11, 2013, 6:24 GMT)

Selectors are seemingly always distracted by current ODI form. They should realise that it doesnt mean good test form (example Watson). Test teams should not be picked on ODI and T20 form.

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Daniel BrettigClose
Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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