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Australia v England, 2nd Test, Adelaide, 3rd day

From outcast to beast

Mitchell Johnson may not be a gigantic, horned, fire-breathing dragon with seven heads - but he could not have done much more damage if he were

Jarrod Kimber at Adelaide Oval

December 7, 2013

Comments: 57 | Text size: A | A

Mitchell Johnson sees off James Anderson, Australia v England, 2nd Test, Adelaide, 3rd day, December 7, 2013
Mitchell Johnson, or a gigantic, horned, fire-breathing dragon with seven heads? © Getty Images
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A gigantic, horned, fire-breathing dragon with seven heads came out of the smoke of the abyss. Its tail capable of sweeping a third of the stars from the sky. Its saliva enough to burn a man alive. Every putrid breath had black smoke emitting from its nostrils. Violence emanated from its apocalyptic eyes.

And a moustache of maliciousness smirking at the many fallen. Mitchell Johnson, savagery and annihilation. From outcast to beast.

Reborn in Mumbai during the IPL. Fed on slogging franchise employees. Stripped of subtlety. Stimulated by flinching opposition to white balls. Pumped up by legends. Then let go to turn England's sun into darkness, and their moon into blood.

If the job at the Gabba was to break the arm of James Anderson, then at the Adelaide Oval, the point was to break England's spine.

Alastair Cook had been thrown aside like he was a rag doll the night before. England's knight. The guardian and chief guardsman barely saw the ball that destroyed his stumps.

Then there was a pause. The monster let England breathe. They fought, won and lost battles with others. Then he re-emerged.

Ben Stokes faced Johnson in much the same way you would a gigantic fire-breathing creature. The sound of the ball hitting the pad screamed "I'm a county batsman, get me outta here".

Matt Prior almost lost his chest. Matt Prior almost lost his head. Matt Prior lost his wicket. Matt Prior is lost.

Stuart Broad tried something different, rather than standing in the crease and facing a thunderbolt, he complained about shiny bolts on the sightscreen. It gave his innings more minutes than it deserved. Men scrambled around, perhaps sensing that if Mitch couldn't have Broad, they might be victims of his wrath. Ladders were found. Bolts were covered. And now Broad had run out of reasons to delay it. By this stage, there was no one left at the ground who really expected him to bat out the over, all one ball of it. Broad's stumps seemed to detonate before the ball arrived there. Broad was off outside off stump, far from the carnage, far from okay.

England's over of death, destruction and some other terrible fate had cost them three wickets for the addition of no runs.

Next over, Graeme Swann played the best-weighted shot of his life and ran a three, leaving the only worthy protector of the realm, Ian Bell, to stand guard. The following over, after another brilliantly weighted three from Swann, Bell let him face the last two balls. Earlier, Swann had spooned one safely from near on his throat. This time he didn't wait for anything at him, he just flung his bat and was caught in slips by a ball that might have de-handed a club cricketer.

Then came Anderson.

Jimmy can be stubborn. Jimmy can survive. Jimmy will slash past catchers. Jimmy can get off strike. Jimmy can annoy.

In this innings, it's unknown if Jimmy could even open his eyes. He went at the ball with all the confidence of a man who had seen all his team-mates eaten alive and the knowledge that his only protection was an expired library card. His hands were around the bat handle as if it were a live serpent. His middle stump died a tragic death. He was stared at and mocked. Silently. Perhaps in tribute to Anderson asking Johnson to quiet down in Perth three years ago.

Monty Panesar got a reprieve when the beast left the crease to polish the skulls of those he had already vanquished. His innings of tough, tail-end squatting was 33 balls in when the beast came back. He ended up facing 35.

If you visit Adelaide Oval tonight, all you'll find is chunks of English batsmen. Perhaps you'll also hear the howls of the damned, and the occasional snap of stump.

"Some say the end is near. Some say we'll see Armageddon soon. I certainly hope we will. I sure could use a vacation from this" screamed Maynard James Keenan, lead singer of Tool. The end is a while away. England are finding their Armageddon is taking too long. There are no vacations planned for English batsmen. Just seven more innings of potential butchery. In three short innings, Johnson has virtually torn the Ashes off them.

You could argue that Mitchell Johnson is not actually a gigantic, horned, fire-breathing dragon with seven heads. You could also argue that, if he were, he couldn't have done much more damage today.

Jarrod Kimber is 50% of the Two Chucks, and the mind responsible for cricketwithballs.com

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Posted by brisCricFan on (December 9, 2013, 1:27 GMT)

Three and a half weeks ago the English were laughing at the prospect of Australia playing Mitchell Johnson... surely there is better options they said... At the same time recognising that on his day (and on the WACA) he is one of the games best, but they said "Which MJ is going to turn up?"

My response three weeks ago was neither the good MJ or the bad MJ, instead they will be facing a NEW MJ. It's nice to be shown that I was right.

I have always been a huge fan, so have followed his return closely over the last 18 mths... in reality he should have been playing the Northern Summer - he was ready then - but this apocolyptic return on home soil seems all the sweeter.

Posted by   on (December 8, 2013, 16:34 GMT)

"Matt Prior almost lost his chest. Matt Prior almost lost his head. Matt Prior lost his wicket. Matt Prior is lost" PEERLESS WRITING JARROD. These lines sums up the whole Johnson show.

Posted by Nmiduna on (December 8, 2013, 2:29 GMT)

J kimber is the best writer in cricinfo since roebuck, period!

Posted by Bonehead_maz on (December 7, 2013, 22:49 GMT)

Someone else on another thread compared Mitch to the Phoenix. The more I think about , the more worthy to repeat. Keep bringing the fire !

Posted by milepost on (December 7, 2013, 22:10 GMT)

It's about 12 hours since I first read this and I am still crying laughing on a second read. Great stuff, very very funny, thank you!

Posted by rawr94 on (December 7, 2013, 22:03 GMT)

Loving the Tool reference Jarrod!!

Posted by Big_Chikka on (December 7, 2013, 21:41 GMT)

great read, bravo...........

Posted by wouldlovetoplayagain on (December 7, 2013, 21:34 GMT)

The cricinfo scorecard says Broad batted for one minute. But surely his innings began when he entered the arena, and thus his golden duck would have to be the longest in history (for a batsman facing the next delivery)

Posted by   on (December 7, 2013, 20:28 GMT)

LOVE ITTT ..brilliant piece

Posted by Beertjie on (December 7, 2013, 19:04 GMT)

Literally fabulous, Jarrod. As a tribute to Mitch I'd like to compare him with Larwood's Body-line partner, the leftie Bill Voce. But whereas that mayhem depended on the since-outlawed leg-side field placings as much as on intimidatory bowling, Mitch's current version owes it all to beautifully controlled and directed pace - wondrous to behold such carnage!

Posted by   on (December 7, 2013, 18:52 GMT)

Cannot believe that it is the same Mitch whose career was almost over in last Ashes after Sydney and Melbourne , before this Ashes his Avg against England was 34+ and economy over 4 which was his worst economy , definately he was among the find in IPL 2013 but needs to see how long can he sustain

Posted by   on (December 7, 2013, 18:19 GMT)

I have enjoyed this article almost as much a I enjoyed the cricket. As someone else so rightly mentioned, the writng is evocative of Cardus.

Posted by Wd-X on (December 7, 2013, 17:18 GMT)

Brilliant article Jarrod!!! And LOVE the tool reference!

Posted by   on (December 7, 2013, 16:30 GMT)

If Johnson were Smaug, Jarrod, this piece would make you Tolkein!! Brilliant writing ... and fearsome bowling . Hope the dwarves of English batting line up can fight back . :)

Posted by   on (December 7, 2013, 16:21 GMT)

Jarrod, great presentation man way to go. This is like Lords of the rings Cricket version

Posted by   on (December 7, 2013, 15:06 GMT)

After the famous Bodyline tour, his grateful captain, Douglas Jardine, presented Harold Larwood a silver ashtray with the inscription: "To Harold from his Skipper - for the Ashes". Larwood who conquered the 'Bradman's Invincibles' on english soil. I think 'no-more-mr.nice-guy' MJ Clarke could do something similar after this return ashes series & present Johnson something with the inscription : "To mitch who's returned, from his skip - for regaining the urn".

Posted by yuvi_gladiator on (December 7, 2013, 14:23 GMT)

Australia surely needed a beast to change there fortunes and they surely have found one in johnson. mitch has finally discovered the purpose of his life, which was not to try and learn how to in swing the ball into right handers but to make them kneel and jump with his pace. this will certainly be one of the good memories that will stay in my head along with the pain of watching my own team getting thrashed and embarrassed in SA this month

Posted by HatsforBats on (December 7, 2013, 14:17 GMT)

The front foot cut shot from Smith off Anderson was glorious!

Posted by chitti_cricket on (December 7, 2013, 13:54 GMT)

Thank you very much for summing up the day in such beautiful narrative. The words perfectly matched the destruction that super fast bowler brought to England's batsmen. By comparing Johnson to a beautiful wild beast, writer described the true nature of mayhem he gets into opposition and at the same time joy he gets in supporters. Wonderful piece of summation. The same way I felt when I was watching the match and every time Johnson was claiming a wicket was getting a kind of awe and admiration was totally summed up here in words. This particular writer puts some times things in very right perspective/

Posted by vismorkel on (December 7, 2013, 13:09 GMT)

Thanks Mitch for reminding us of how the quality of bowling was in the 90s & how these batsmen would have fared then,unfortunately most of the bowlers these days serve up dollies.Wonder how the batsmen these days would have fared against Curtly & Courtney/Wasim & Waqar.They can't face the heat at one end,imagine facing it from both ends.

Posted by   on (December 7, 2013, 12:59 GMT)

Brilliant writing Mr. Kimber, I really enjoyed it! :D I am really glad that the beast came out to entertain us...

Posted by BradmanBestEver on (December 7, 2013, 12:42 GMT)

@Vishnu27 - could not agree with you more mate - Anderson a.k.a. " the arrogant one" did not even have the guts to look at Johnson in the face.

The shoe is on the other foot now and the Aussie fans love it!

Posted by BradmanBestEver on (December 7, 2013, 12:37 GMT)

It has been nothing short of a complete and total pulverization of the Poms by MJ and his m0re than capable bowling colleagues.

I hear the fat lady warming up in her changing room as I write...

Posted by Harmony_not_Discord on (December 7, 2013, 12:36 GMT)

Poetic eulogy to moustachioed beast - beautiful!

Fast deadly bowling at its best...that's when test cricket becomes a treat to watch, more so than someone scoring a double hundred on a flatbed.

Posted by NP_NY on (December 7, 2013, 12:29 GMT)

Sports is entertainment. So sports writing should be as well. This article is a great example. Way to go Jarrod!

Posted by Blakey on (December 7, 2013, 12:27 GMT)

If Mitch plays in Perth and Australia win in Adelaide and Perth, he is already man of the series, absolutely no question! It has been his bowling in Brisbane and Adelaide, alone, that has been the difference between these teams.

Posted by Vishnu27 on (December 7, 2013, 12:18 GMT)

James Anderson got owned & served his comeuppance, oh so hard. That look is something I will never forget. Such a thing couldn't have happened to a bigger piece of work. Sheer brilliance today, Mitchell. Australia doffs it's hat. Very very quiet from the England fanboy brigade….. Deafening silence

Posted by Tumbarumbar on (December 7, 2013, 12:16 GMT)

Is this Jarrod Kimber or Jarrod Cardus writing? The reason this is a fantastic article is not because it is funny (although it is) and not because it uses fabulous imagery (although it does) but because it is from first to last a wonderful salute to the pace and performance of Mitchell Johnson. Just think what Jarrod could have written if we'd ever seen Johnnson bowling with Thommo and Lillee on a 1970s WACA pitch! Mind you oppositions scoring 34 in each innings wouldn't be much fun.

Posted by KingAjmal on (December 7, 2013, 11:48 GMT)

England are overrated. Don't think it will be 5-0 but Australia will obviously win back the Ashes at the third test most likely since its at Perth. England lacks young talent as well where as Australia have Smith, Faulkner, Agar, Starc etc.

Posted by tickcric on (December 7, 2013, 11:47 GMT)

Brilliant Jarrod, believe me we need you in Bollywood!!!

Posted by rajuramki on (December 7, 2013, 11:42 GMT)

The article is no satire . It has only explained in detail,the Johnson effect on the England team . A well drafted article, that has missed no detail. Even the Australian selectors must be wondering what has brought about such a change in Johnson's approach to the game .Indeed ,it is a bonus for Michael clarke to have Johnson on board , in his present avatar . In his present menacing form , Johnson is next only to Steyn at the moment . I want Johnson to continue at his present best and not let go of the English , even at venues like Sydney and Melbourne .

Posted by CustomKid on (December 7, 2013, 11:42 GMT)

The photo sat sit all. It was my highlight of the day, no need to say words to jimmy, just glare . So so good.

Posted by izzidole on (December 7, 2013, 11:25 GMT)

The English batsmen had no answer whatsoever to Mitchell Johnson's thunderbolts and surrendered their wickets as if they had never held a bat in all their life. The speed of the ball was so fierce that they were more than happy to sacrifice their wickets than stand and watch the ball pass viciously over and under their helmet occassionally ducking for cover. Test cricket could be so brutal sometimes and it seems all over for the Englishmen who had planned to win the ashes even before they had landed on Australian soil. Now it seems all their plans have been shattered even before the test series is even halfway through. But Johnson had other plans to take revenge for all the insults directed at him all these years by the Barmy Army and the English press because this was his last chance to prove himself as a test cricketer. After his omission in the last ashes series in England he was only selected because of injuries to the rest. I think Johnson has finally arrived and is here to stay

Posted by   on (December 7, 2013, 11:15 GMT)

What a great story Mitchell Johnson is! I think he is a great bloke and it use to baffle me that for someone with so much natural talent he had really low self-confidence. I hope he ends his career on a high. But honestly, Is this a reflection of how bad the current batsmen are that they come across one guy who bowls 150 ks , no swing btw , just gun barrel straight and they fall away like dominos ?. As much as Mitch has to take credit this has been just awful awful batting display in the last 3 innings by Eng.

Posted by disco_bob on (December 7, 2013, 11:02 GMT)

Agreed, it was a splendid spell of bowling.

Posted by   on (December 7, 2013, 10:52 GMT)

Kudos to the writer.I specially liked the phrase where u said "Matt Prior almost lost his chest. Matt Prior almost lost his head. Matt Prior lost his wicket. Matt Prior is lost" Extremely well written article.

Posted by   on (December 7, 2013, 10:48 GMT)

This series is over. Johnson willget 40 wickets here quite easily and it will be a combination of pace and aesthetic. He looks like a man's man...mouthstache, tatoos and a swagger which alone will get batsman out. When someone is bowling this well against one team the game is already over as thebowler is already in back of their minds. Johnson may not bowl this well against another team as he does not have a hold on them. England has a good team but they need to get tough.

Posted by oze13 on (December 7, 2013, 10:45 GMT)

A performance enhanced display from the 32 year old former underachiever!

Posted by ShutTheGate on (December 7, 2013, 10:45 GMT)

Mitch deserves a lot of credit for his performance in Adelaide in Brisbane. Especially as he had to work hard to get back into the team.

I do think that all of the Australian bowlers deserve credit as they all did their job in building pressure so that the English couldn't simply play to survive Johnson and then score runs from the other bowlers. They all contributed to his success.

And the Australian team looks like a unified happy team - I suppose that's the effect of winning.

Posted by   on (December 7, 2013, 10:43 GMT)

A brilliant and hilarious article. Rock on, Jarrod!

Posted by bakers-eleven on (December 7, 2013, 10:41 GMT)

A lot of 'Game of Thrones' vocabulary here. Dragons, protector of the realm, howls of the damned. It sure looks like Jarrod Kimber is a fan of George R.R. Martin.

Posted by pat_one_back on (December 7, 2013, 10:40 GMT)

Love the Tool reference JK \m/

Posted by   on (December 7, 2013, 10:34 GMT)

Mitchell Johnson has really come back with some fire. If I were a cricketer batsman right now, I wouldn't want to face him - unless, of course, I'm Viv Richards. Only Viv had that kind of arrogance to humble the best of them; just ask Thompson and Lilee.

Posted by RJHB on (December 7, 2013, 10:26 GMT)

Just awesome stuff! It's great to be an Aussie tonight! Tomorrow is a new day and who knows what will happen because this is the great test cricket! But tonight, we're king of the world! On ya Johnno!

Posted by   on (December 7, 2013, 10:24 GMT)

brilliant piece..for me it brought back memories of a bygone era of fast bowling..nd so Oxford dictionary should add a new synonym for Savagery - Mitch Johnson

Posted by subhfloyd123 on (December 7, 2013, 10:20 GMT)

mitch johnson,a regulation quickey at the zenith of his form,tearing apart the english flesh into shreds spilled wid blood.a roaring gigantic beast inviting the englishmen to his own den,aiming to leave a skeleton out of it.fast bowling aided with out of the world swing and pace leading to english debacle...oochh

Posted by Flash007 on (December 7, 2013, 10:18 GMT)

Fantastic Article! Kimber might consider a career in fantasy literature. Mitchell Johnson might frame this.

Posted by   on (December 7, 2013, 10:08 GMT)

Brilliant! The good news for England is if Mitch can return so can Trott. Depression is a horrible thing and Mitch was feeling it in England all those years ago. Well done on him coming back the way he has.

Posted by Aviator003 on (December 7, 2013, 9:56 GMT)

What a piece. Tip my hat. All I saw was a mustache sporting menace, you made me see the poetry in it.

Posted by   on (December 7, 2013, 9:48 GMT)

Brilliant article, LOVE the Tool reference! Well written good sir.

Posted by Nag3 on (December 7, 2013, 9:47 GMT)

One of the best articles I have read recently. Johnson is really awesome - even though some people have doubts before the Ashes w.r.t Johnson's inclusion (bcoz of past history/stats), I really thought he would succeed. Glad my prediction is correct and I don't see how England survive in Perth. But I am pretty sure Clarke will be careful till he gets 3-0 in Perth as we all know what happened with India in Perth when Aussies are over confident.

Best Regards

Posted by valvolux on (December 7, 2013, 9:43 GMT)

Unbelievable bowling. Favourite aussie fast man spell since mcgrath at lords in 05. Adelaide was suppose to be where we saw the old mitch, where england would use his pace to generate easy runs. Last night he hit a perfect line from ball one, today was something better. I will put my hand up and say i was dirty that we let him back in the team. He is performing better than anyone couldve dreamed of and england is scared. Props for the quote from tool! As that song continues - i have a suggestion (for england) to keep you all occupied - learn to swim! Thats the only way they will get out of australia without the biggest media examination on character that cricinfo will ever report on!

Posted by gihan.mallawa on (December 7, 2013, 9:30 GMT)

Just saw the highlights of day 3. Ruthless bowling by Johnson he is at his peak in confidence can't stop him now. He will make the brits suffer for the entire series !

Posted by ModernUmpiresPlz on (December 7, 2013, 9:29 GMT)

Now that article I enjoyed, well played sir.

Posted by   on (December 7, 2013, 9:24 GMT)

Great column as per usual Jarrod. You have said during your road trip with George Dobell, that England and Oz are ordinary sides. Australia's performances at home have been as good as anyones. Mostly better. Sth Africa were lucky last summer, and they are number one. We thrashed India 4 blot, okay they beat us by the same margin at home. . We haven't been beaten by Pakistan either at home or away in a long, long time, we look as though we can reclaim the ashes, so that makes us Number 2, so pleese Watson is out of form and Steve Smith out of his depth, but, apart from that, we have a good team. Warner is the best opener in world cricket, Clarke the best batsmen, Johnson the quickest and deadliest fast bowler. So time to re-assess our standing methinks. Over to Jarrod!!!

Posted by Front-Foot-Sponge on (December 7, 2013, 9:19 GMT)

Thank you Jarrod, this is honestly the funniest piece of writing I have ever read about cricket, it's brilliant! So funny.

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