New Zealand v Australia, 2nd Test, Hamilton, 4th day March 30, 2010

Shades of Akram in record-breaking Johnson

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Mitchell Johnson is used to being quick, though usually it's the speed of his bowling that attracts the most attention. On the fourth day at Seddon Park he did break the 150kph mark on a regular basis to drive Australia closer to victory, but of equal interest was how fast he reached a milestone. When Johnson rattled the stumps of Tim McIntosh, it was his 150th wicket in 34 Tests, fewer games than any other left-armer in history took to reach that landmark.

Only eight left-arm pace bowlers have got there, and that includes Garry Sobers and Bill Johnston, who switched between seam and spin. At the head of the field is Wasim Akram, and after Johnson was told of his achievement he said he was thrilled to be in the same company as Akram, who took 41 Tests to get 150 wickets.

"I used to watch him when I was younger and I guess you grow up and want to be able to do the things that guys like him did when they played," Johnson said. "I used to watch the lefties when they were around, like Bruce Reid, and one day you hope you have the chance to do that. All us lefties do stick together I suppose."

Perhaps a greater compliment than the record came with the word of the opposing coach Mark Greatbatch, who watched on in dismay as Johnson skittled three of New Zealand's top four batsmen with his speed, angle and unpredictability. Only Waqar Younis dismissed Greatbatch more times in international cricket than Wasim, whose key weapons were accuracy and swing.

"He's not the same left-armer as Akram but he looks like he can go up two or three gears on a flat deck, which is a real skill," Greatbatch said. "He has that energy and that ability. It's slightly different the way he did it as what Akram did it but it's still the same quality."

The ball that beat McIntosh was 150kph and the first delivery that Mathew Sinclair faced was even quicker at 152kph. Johnson was keen to use the variable bounce in the Seddon Park pitch to unsettle the batsmen, pushing McIntosh back with a leg gully to get him thinking of a short ball, and he also kept one eye on the radar gun.

"I think most fast bowlers do, you want to see where you are at," Johnson said. "It felt good for me rhythm wise, the guys behind the stumps were encouraging as well, saying it was going through well. You always have a glance now and then. If you think you have bowled a quick ball, you have a look up. It's nice to see when the ball is over 150, I don't mind seeing that at all."

The batsmen didn't like seeing it. After McIntosh, Johnson drew edges behind from the right-handers BJ Watling and Ross Taylor and put Australia in a strong position to aim for victory on the fifth morning. If Johnson has his way, the result will come quickly.

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Winsome on April 1, 2010, 19:17 GMT

    This article i s great, I was waiting for the Akram protectors to come out screaming. Cheers for the laughs Brydon, especially as you haven't claimed MJ is as good as him. Who would?

    Akram was a great bowler and wonderful to watch bat as well as bowl.

    MJ has some way to go to get near him but he is as good a fast bowler as we have in the international game at present, Steyn apart.

    MJ has done extremely well for a bloke who has a history of such iinjuries that he couldn't play for a couple of years. His inswinger hasn't completely deserted him either, it's just kind of random now, I am sure MJ has no idea when it will appear. He's sure bowled fast this summer though. Cranking it up around 150 at will. That will never hurt a bowler. Be nice to see him bowl with less scrambled seam sometimes.

  • The_Maxophone on March 31, 2010, 12:27 GMT

    @Umair Waqar Mughal - very well summed up, nice to see a guy put some facts to back up his point instead of "OMFG Akram waz da best eva" type of comment. I agree Wasim was the best leftie I've seen mainly for his ability to swing it both ways and his mental strength as well. Johnson has different strengths, he draws right handers into the shot by bowling stump to stump, he has more pace than Akram and gets good bounce. Interestingly Johnson's strike-rate is better than Akrams, but his poor Economy rate in comparison shows what his weakness is on a bad day. It's far to early to say how good he will be, as good as Akram - I doubt it but who knows. He has got to 150 wickets faster so if he can stop bowling those loose spells and bring his economy rate under 3 his average will drop like a stone and then maybe we can consider him an alltime great like Akram.

  • on March 31, 2010, 8:33 GMT

    Mitchell is fast, nippy but posses a one way swing. He uses a combination of bouncers and good length deliveries to lefties while away swinging half volleys to righties as his major attack weapon. I don't intend to undermine his performance but wasim used a combination of two way swing coupled with cutters at varying lengths against his opposition. Mitchell is a game's great of the time but his comparison with wasim is unjustified. Though I would still take this opportunity to commend his performance given evolution of cricket as a batsman's game.

  • vikpai on March 31, 2010, 5:05 GMT

    I dont think Mitchell Johnson, is close or ever will be close to emulating Wasim Akram's performances, while he might be quick and lethal at times, Wasim was the complete bowler, capable of swinging both the old and new ball any time he wished of both a short and long run up. Mitch on the other hand tends to rely only on pace alone, and if run up is slightly off like it was during the Ashes in England it tends to reduce his effectiveness. I think he still has a lot to learn before he can be compared to Wasim, even in shades :)

  • rusjel on March 31, 2010, 2:34 GMT

    I completely agree Gupta, it is silly to compare Johnson with a great like Wasim. However it is also easy to mistake Johnson's methods as only brute force. His wickets against all comers on all surfaces give the lie to that assumption.

    How lucky are Australia to be able to produce quality quicks when their stocks appeared decimated? Not the firepower of previous years to be sure but this attack is proving to be pretty handy

  • Dilee on March 31, 2010, 2:27 GMT

    Few months back, Johnson was struggling for a place in the Australian side with Doug Bollinger bowling well. One 10 for, & he is in the company ofWasin Akram. Surprising...... Guess he has a long way to reach the legend's level...

  • ebbie-qld on March 31, 2010, 1:58 GMT

    Oh please Gupta! Neither Coverdale or Greatbatch said he was anything like Akram. Read the article properly.As the article stated Johnson can change up or down to suit conditions. He gets batsman out with quick and slow deliveries. Johnson has never "hooped" the ball a great deal. Johnson must be doing something right, otherwise he wouldn't have got to 150 wickets so quickly. He may have bowled to some weaker teams lately but at the start of his carear he was playing SA and India . Who know what Johnson may do in the next five years, he may be a great bowler or just a very good one. Gupta , there was no hype , just acknowlegment of a bowler who got to 150 wickets before the great Wasim Arkam.

  • on March 31, 2010, 1:48 GMT

    Wasim Akram .. was in a league of his own !! There s No Compare to Wasim Akram !

  • on March 31, 2010, 1:10 GMT

    Common now how can you compare him the Akram The Great. Johnson is good baller, but he still got lot to prove that he is great. When Irfan Pathan from India was taking wickets people said same thing.. now we can see what happen to him... The ability to ball 6 different balls in an over can not be mastered by anyone else.. Infact Waqar himself said that.

  • nickish23 on March 31, 2010, 0:56 GMT

    Mitchell Johnson is a true performer in a modern game where, in general, bat dominates ball. He, along with Dale Steyn have brought back memories of great bowlers from the past. Johnson may have allegedly 'lost his in-swing to right handers', though he is still performing at the highest level with distinction. He has proven to a successful bowler against the best team, in their home countries. People talk about his mediocre ashes performance. Those figures may have been below average for someone of his standards, though compared with any other bowlers around the world taking 20 wickets in a 5 match series at an average of 32.55, is something they would aspire to achieve. Johnson has now reached 150 test match wickets quicker than any other left handed bowler in the entire history of our great game. He resides in upper echelon of fast bowlers in world cricket today, and is set to become an all time great of the game.

  • Winsome on April 1, 2010, 19:17 GMT

    This article i s great, I was waiting for the Akram protectors to come out screaming. Cheers for the laughs Brydon, especially as you haven't claimed MJ is as good as him. Who would?

    Akram was a great bowler and wonderful to watch bat as well as bowl.

    MJ has some way to go to get near him but he is as good a fast bowler as we have in the international game at present, Steyn apart.

    MJ has done extremely well for a bloke who has a history of such iinjuries that he couldn't play for a couple of years. His inswinger hasn't completely deserted him either, it's just kind of random now, I am sure MJ has no idea when it will appear. He's sure bowled fast this summer though. Cranking it up around 150 at will. That will never hurt a bowler. Be nice to see him bowl with less scrambled seam sometimes.

  • The_Maxophone on March 31, 2010, 12:27 GMT

    @Umair Waqar Mughal - very well summed up, nice to see a guy put some facts to back up his point instead of "OMFG Akram waz da best eva" type of comment. I agree Wasim was the best leftie I've seen mainly for his ability to swing it both ways and his mental strength as well. Johnson has different strengths, he draws right handers into the shot by bowling stump to stump, he has more pace than Akram and gets good bounce. Interestingly Johnson's strike-rate is better than Akrams, but his poor Economy rate in comparison shows what his weakness is on a bad day. It's far to early to say how good he will be, as good as Akram - I doubt it but who knows. He has got to 150 wickets faster so if he can stop bowling those loose spells and bring his economy rate under 3 his average will drop like a stone and then maybe we can consider him an alltime great like Akram.

  • on March 31, 2010, 8:33 GMT

    Mitchell is fast, nippy but posses a one way swing. He uses a combination of bouncers and good length deliveries to lefties while away swinging half volleys to righties as his major attack weapon. I don't intend to undermine his performance but wasim used a combination of two way swing coupled with cutters at varying lengths against his opposition. Mitchell is a game's great of the time but his comparison with wasim is unjustified. Though I would still take this opportunity to commend his performance given evolution of cricket as a batsman's game.

  • vikpai on March 31, 2010, 5:05 GMT

    I dont think Mitchell Johnson, is close or ever will be close to emulating Wasim Akram's performances, while he might be quick and lethal at times, Wasim was the complete bowler, capable of swinging both the old and new ball any time he wished of both a short and long run up. Mitch on the other hand tends to rely only on pace alone, and if run up is slightly off like it was during the Ashes in England it tends to reduce his effectiveness. I think he still has a lot to learn before he can be compared to Wasim, even in shades :)

  • rusjel on March 31, 2010, 2:34 GMT

    I completely agree Gupta, it is silly to compare Johnson with a great like Wasim. However it is also easy to mistake Johnson's methods as only brute force. His wickets against all comers on all surfaces give the lie to that assumption.

    How lucky are Australia to be able to produce quality quicks when their stocks appeared decimated? Not the firepower of previous years to be sure but this attack is proving to be pretty handy

  • Dilee on March 31, 2010, 2:27 GMT

    Few months back, Johnson was struggling for a place in the Australian side with Doug Bollinger bowling well. One 10 for, & he is in the company ofWasin Akram. Surprising...... Guess he has a long way to reach the legend's level...

  • ebbie-qld on March 31, 2010, 1:58 GMT

    Oh please Gupta! Neither Coverdale or Greatbatch said he was anything like Akram. Read the article properly.As the article stated Johnson can change up or down to suit conditions. He gets batsman out with quick and slow deliveries. Johnson has never "hooped" the ball a great deal. Johnson must be doing something right, otherwise he wouldn't have got to 150 wickets so quickly. He may have bowled to some weaker teams lately but at the start of his carear he was playing SA and India . Who know what Johnson may do in the next five years, he may be a great bowler or just a very good one. Gupta , there was no hype , just acknowlegment of a bowler who got to 150 wickets before the great Wasim Arkam.

  • on March 31, 2010, 1:48 GMT

    Wasim Akram .. was in a league of his own !! There s No Compare to Wasim Akram !

  • on March 31, 2010, 1:10 GMT

    Common now how can you compare him the Akram The Great. Johnson is good baller, but he still got lot to prove that he is great. When Irfan Pathan from India was taking wickets people said same thing.. now we can see what happen to him... The ability to ball 6 different balls in an over can not be mastered by anyone else.. Infact Waqar himself said that.

  • nickish23 on March 31, 2010, 0:56 GMT

    Mitchell Johnson is a true performer in a modern game where, in general, bat dominates ball. He, along with Dale Steyn have brought back memories of great bowlers from the past. Johnson may have allegedly 'lost his in-swing to right handers', though he is still performing at the highest level with distinction. He has proven to a successful bowler against the best team, in their home countries. People talk about his mediocre ashes performance. Those figures may have been below average for someone of his standards, though compared with any other bowlers around the world taking 20 wickets in a 5 match series at an average of 32.55, is something they would aspire to achieve. Johnson has now reached 150 test match wickets quicker than any other left handed bowler in the entire history of our great game. He resides in upper echelon of fast bowlers in world cricket today, and is set to become an all time great of the game.

  • ponting164 on March 31, 2010, 0:56 GMT

    @Gupta.Ankur Please read the title of the article before going off half cocked. The title reads "Shades of Akram" , NOT "As good as Akram". I agree that at this stage he is not as good, & may never be as good, but when he gets it right, he's as unplayable as what Akram was. It's his consistency that is lacking that would put Akram a class above him at present. I'd have both in my team any day :) As far as not rating him against the kiwis, how about we DO rate him against the SouthAfricans....he destroyed them last year before his dopey mother decided to distract him by making stupid comments in the media. Cheers!

  • zeb.kiani on March 31, 2010, 0:37 GMT

    ooh lord !!! plz don't compare him to Wasim !! really ?? he is good, talented but not like Wasim...ooh god!!!!! haha.....that is funny...!! it was his day..thats it:P

  • nadalino on March 31, 2010, 0:30 GMT

    You have got to be kidding! Gee i dont seem to recall the great Wasim Akram spraying the ball all over the place, bowling wides as though it was his stock ball, and headbutting batsmen when he got hit for some runs and playing the game in a generally poor spirit. This is an insult to the great man..!!!

  • asad114 on March 31, 2010, 0:30 GMT

    The legend of Wasim was in his abililty to make things happen on lifeless pitches...To get that red cherry to do wicked things to batsmen when they were least expecting it..mitchell johnson has undoubtedly used his pace and bounce to good effect on the seaming bouncing tracks of SA, Australia and NZ but he's gotta learn to be equally effective on dead wickets...that's when he should be compared to wasim...right now he's a fast left armer who knows how to scare batsmen and get them out...

  • on March 31, 2010, 0:30 GMT

    Please, Gupta.Ankur, try and look objectively. Akram was a fabulous bowler, but Johnson got 150 wickets in 34 tests, not 41. If you check Statshuru, you'll find he got 29 vs India, and 33 against SA, the other best teams around. He currently averages 4.5 wickets per innings, while Akram's avearage is 3.98. Akram also had a reasonable batting average (22.64), but Johnson rates a touch better at 24.97. Don't deride either man, they are both worthy of praise.

  • Aussie_cricket_fan on March 31, 2010, 0:16 GMT

    Good on Mitchell for breaking the record of Wasim. Johnson has been a great bolwer for Australia since he broke through to get in the side. Lillie rated him as the best he has ever seen and with him breaking this record, I think any comparisons to Wasim are well justified and I fail to see where the hype is and Gupta as for you comment about him only getting wickets against the Kiwi's, you should have a look at what he did last year against South Africia, both in Australia and over there. Has Graham Smiths hand recovered from his borken hand yet?

  • Gilly67 on March 31, 2010, 0:09 GMT

    @ Gupta.Ankur. Did you read the article? He was compared to Akram for 2 reasons. The main reason being he is a left armer. The second reason being he took 7 less tests, 83% of the number of tests it took Akram, to get to 150 wickets. Who gives a damn whether he swings it left, right, up or down. All I care a bout is a bowler getting wickets and getting them quickly. That, my dear Gupta, is how you win test matches.

  • simmogooner on March 31, 2010, 0:02 GMT

    Chill out Gupta. The article meerly mentions the fact that he has got 150 wickets quicker than Wasim did.

    Wasim is indeed a mile ahead of Johnson, but that dosent mean we should diminish his achievement. Well done mitch!

  • ZainHaq11 on March 30, 2010, 23:29 GMT

    Johson has certainly improved great deal since the disastrous Ashes in 2009. To compare him to Wasim at this stage of the career purely on the basis of statistics is a bit unfair not only to Wasim but to Mich as he's still developing into a genuine fast bowler. But one thing is for sure that Australia's fast bowling depth in unmatchable in all three formats. Brett Lee has retired from tests and Stuart Clark is not out of favor at 35 and Ben heifanus and Peter Siddle are injured, still Australia has a quality bowling line up in the form of Doug, Harris and Johnson and a bit of Watson. Also, their t20 line-up is made up of Brett Lee, Mich, Tait and Nannes. Clarke would surely have a hard time in the T20 in WI this year to decide who to rest.

  • mikem764 on March 30, 2010, 23:11 GMT

    Johnson had one good year, but has lost it now. His arm is too low, he will never swing it both ways and relies on pace - and a lack of depth in batting orders. This Kiwi team hardly bat all the way down do they? Wasim Akram ended up with 400 wickets in Test and One-dayers, Johnson won't get anywhere near that.

  • mikem764 on March 30, 2010, 23:10 GMT

    Johnson had one good year, but has lost it now. His arm is too low, he will never swing it both ways and relies on pace - and a lack of depth in batting orders. This Kiwi team hardly bat all the way down do they? Wasim Akram ended up with 400 wickets in Test and One-dayers, Johnson won't get anywhere near that.

  • TeeJ on March 30, 2010, 22:55 GMT

    The first four test series in which Johnson has bowled he has never below an average of 30. Majority of the wickets are from series within Australia and Trans-Tasman (barring the South African series before ashes). Against India he averages 37 who is their next rival. Now tally it up for yourself Greatbatch, both are not of the same quality. It's an achievement that he was the fastest to 100 wickets. Ajit Agakar is the fastest in the world to get fifty ODI wickets. Does it make him greater than all the right handers or join the Elite League? There are spells from Wasim against all his opponents which were unplayable. Johnson against quality opponents is very predictable(explains his average). As immature as comparing Michael Hussey to Bradman when he started. It's not of the same quality, YET. Articles at times here are laugh stock.

  • redneck on March 30, 2010, 22:27 GMT

    well done mitch on the 150 wickets! @Gupta.Ankur did you only read the headline and then base your comment on that??? dont read into mitches ashes form that series seems to be the exception not the rule. and he cant be too far behind wasim if hes infront of wasim at the same stage of his career! hes just broken the record for fastest lefty to 150 wickets! wasim took 7 more tests to do it! id say that justifies the headline!

  • mehbboob on March 30, 2010, 21:57 GMT

    akram is akram its legend.end jhonson is not like akram i thinc jhonson is ishant sharma level bowler

  • Number_5 on March 30, 2010, 21:42 GMT

    Pure numbers say Mitchy is above of all lefties at this stage of his career, but as Gupat has pointed out, Wasim is by far the best lefty there has been and will be the benchmark to be measured against. Whilst the kiwi's are not at the top of the ladder, Johnson's recent performance against the number one ranked test team in the world (SAfr) show he is capable of truley exceptional bowlling, he now needs to find consistancy if he is to go on and be worthy of true comparisons with the greats be it left or right handed..Well done Mitchell. (All of this without tampering with the ball as well..........)

  • on March 30, 2010, 21:36 GMT

    Nobody can match with Wasim Akram

  • __PK on March 30, 2010, 21:19 GMT

    Gupta.Ankur is giving Akram the credit for "originating" reverse swing! And apparently Akram never played against NZ. Johnson has the pace Akram did. And more wickets than him at a comparable stage of his career. Johnson has had to come back from crippling injuries and actually fight for his place in the side, which is something Akram had gifted to him for life at an early age. Also, Johnson is bowling in an era where everything is biased in the batsman's favour and he's STILL outperforming Akram. Get used to it - this guy will be a better quick bowler and a better allrounder.

  • lodger67 on March 30, 2010, 21:09 GMT

    At Gupta.Ankar = relax, nobody is saying that Johnson is better than Wasim, only that he reached 150 wickets in fewer tests than Wasim, which is a fact. What should be said is that Wasim did achieve greatness, but it was not until around his 30th test (his double 5 wkt haul in 1990 v Australia) that he really began to realise his potential. Until that match, his record was 94 wkts at over 28, which is around the same avge that Johnson currently has. After that match, Wasim's career avge is 22, and it's that Wasim that we all remember as a truly destructive bowler. We all know that Johnson takes more wkts per match because he is bowling more than Wasim did in the first few years of his career, but statistically, the early Wasim is very close to the early Johnson. The acid test for Mitchell will be if he can go on to improve as markedly as Wasim did in the remainder of his career.

  • mayank1818 on March 30, 2010, 20:43 GMT

    Johnson is nothing compared to Wasim Akram. Akram could swing the ball both ways at will with the new and old ball. Johnson doesn't have any control over the one that goes into the right handers and that's a well known fact. He only gets it sometimes and is pretty much raw pace with his stock delivery being the one that goes across the right handers.

  • venki_NZ on March 30, 2010, 20:36 GMT

    Oh! Give us a break! he is taking wickets of NZ Top Order ....ask him to take the formiddable Indian / South African / Srilankan top order and then write the article we know he is good bowler but not comparable to Wasim .. Same people ridicules If Sachin scores century or Murali takes wickets against Bangladesh...be true to yourself coz articles were widely read by everybody

  • Boonys_army on March 30, 2010, 20:28 GMT

    Well Gupta, the stats don't lie, Johnson got to 150 quicker than Akram. You said "the reason he is getting wickets is because of his pace and angle which takes ball away from righties"... you make it sound like its a cheap way of gettin wickets. Why dont more people d oi tlike that? oh wait they cant. And 150 wickets is over his CAREER. I'm pretty sure that is against more teams than NZ.

  • on March 30, 2010, 20:00 GMT

    Zaheer Khan was the next Akram now Johnson...Akram was a great bowler with lot of guile and talent.

    Like the historic one liner from a great american VP" I know Jack Kennedy and you are no Jack Kennedy" substitute that for Akram

  • tammimi2010 on March 30, 2010, 19:55 GMT

    I think comparing Jhonson to Akram is not fair. True he has taken wickets but he does not posses the versatile bowling of Akram.

  • _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on March 30, 2010, 19:10 GMT

    Yea, he's no-where close to Akram BUT you have to give jack his jacket. Any true/genuine cricket fan will admit that Johnson is 1 of the best fast bowlers around in an era that is especially cruel to any kind of bowler, especially fast ones. He would definitely pop up in the conversation for a World XI (on his bowling alone) and to his credit 150 wkts in 34 tests is a good achievement no matter the opposition. I actually think that any good bowler (even an Aussie 1 which throws tantrums) should be given as much hype/encouragement as possible. The game needs them badly! As I personally think weeding out some of the flat track bullies will go some way to maintaining test standards.

  • WJStryder on March 30, 2010, 18:24 GMT

    Agreed. Wasim is my favourite bowler of all time, but i must say there is too much concern around ball tampering with him and wakar for me to believe they did it all on their own. (go look at some footage on Youtube) Johnson certainly lacks Wasims skill, but then was Wasim bowling as well as Johnson at the same age? And was he a victim of the flat pitches bowlers have to toil on nowadays? I think the comparison is a fair one, although i would have liked a little more detail. Good left armers are so rare.

  • A_Fan on March 30, 2010, 18:16 GMT

    Ha Ha !!! So first Phil Hughes is Sehwag and now Johnson is Akram. HA HA HA ....

  • WalkingTripod on March 30, 2010, 17:39 GMT

    Brydon, I realise he's left handed and taken lots of wickets, but is that really enough to compare this guy to the greatest left-armer in history?

    Can he swing the new ball both ways? Can he reverse the old ball consistently? Has he taken wickets against all-comers in all conditions?

    MJ fialed miserably against England only last summer, despite bowling more often than not in favourable conditions against an average batting line-up. As the Legend-in-his-own-mind the one-and-only Geoffrey Boycott said, "Wasim (and Waqar) could bowl England out with an orange."

  • sreeb on March 30, 2010, 17:31 GMT

    Obviously Wasim Akram is a true legend. Nobody can even comes close to matching his class and Skill. But you got appreciate Johnson for what he has done. After McGrath's, Gillespie, Bret lee era he is the one who is keeping all the oppositon on its toes. Be it with swing or pace or seam. But he is one for the Oz future , watch out for him in next wc games he is very fine talent.

  • le_stephenois on March 30, 2010, 16:49 GMT

    Wasim was the best swing bowler in history. I mean the man was mind numbingly accurate and had the ability to swing the ball both ways, sometimes in the same delivery. The reason Johnson got to this feat quicker is that Wasim played this number of games by about the age of 23 before he was fully developed. Wasim took most of his wickets in the dust bowls of the sub continent, if Johnson is really near the same league lets see him take wickets here.

  • 3214414421 on March 30, 2010, 16:33 GMT

    Wasim Akram was surely a legend and a bowler who had countless varieties under his sleeves.... but that was an age of skill whereas these days the game has been left to all pace and no art.... I would appreciate Johnson on his achievement there is not doubt that he is one of the most consistent bowler in the world who performs regularly in all three formats....though he had a rough patch in ashes but he soon got back in rhythm.... and if you have to compare anyone from wasim akram it should be nathan bracken as in his interview once he accepted that he tries to follow Akram as much as he can and also accepted that Akram is his mentor in bowling... and if you guys have noticed or not he tries different things like akram use to do...

  • Hutchinson on March 30, 2010, 15:53 GMT

    Mitch is getting useless praise as he has been totally ineffective against good quality batting like India,England & SA in recent past

  • OutCast on March 30, 2010, 15:51 GMT

    Akram & Johnson side-by-side? huh? Johnson can put the shoe like akram, tie the shoe lace like Akram or even put the sox like Akram, but can't deliver like Akram.. Akram needs less run-up than any spinner & still gusts above 140k.. Johnson runs almost a Boeing runway length.. BTW NZ players are enjoying the sun than cricket out in the middle!

  • Luke77 on March 30, 2010, 15:22 GMT

    True is the fact that Wasim Akram was a brilliant bowler and deserves his status as a great, but watch this space for Mitch Johnson!!!! A whopping 7 tests faster than Akram...that's 14 bowling innings less and at his current strike rate, statistically he should have 211 wickets at the same time as Akram achieved 150. Perhaps the title of this story should read 'Shades of Johnson for former record breaking Akram'. As far as comments by Gupta.Ankur, it's a shame you play down Mitch's achievement. I'm sure even Wasim is proud to have him up there associated with his name! Well done Mitch Johnson!!!!!!!

  • CricFan810 on March 30, 2010, 15:18 GMT

    It is indeed a high time for Mitchell Johnson, as he is picking up important wickets at the right time for Australia, but comparing him to someone who has been the best left arm fast bowler for more than 15 years is a bit too early and perhaps unfair. Just have a look at Youtube.com, some of the clips in which Akram is dismissing batsmen at different times in his career. Those deliveries are not seen these days from any bowler in the world. Even Australian,South African or Pakistani themselves have not been able to produce another bowler of that class. He was one of his ownkind. Truly a legend..!

  • on March 30, 2010, 14:44 GMT

    Well... we should'nt compare him to Akram just yet, but, 150 wickets in 34 matches! Thats pretty good work! Dont you think? And lots of those wickets have been taken against much stronger opposition than the kiwis. Johnson has talent, and as Greatbatch says 'energy and ability'... now if he can just regain that in-swing, and a little more consistancy.....well, look out batsmen!

  • on March 30, 2010, 14:28 GMT

    Akram the legend and the Johnson the sledger. No comparison, please.

  • The.Invincibles on March 30, 2010, 14:25 GMT

    I thnk comparing johnson wiv the great wasim is nt fair . He was far more superior dne johnson n had much more in is bag den him....n anyways u cant check him against weak oponents

  • The.Invincibles on March 30, 2010, 14:24 GMT

    I thnk comparing johnson wiv the great wasim is nt fair . He was far more superior dne johnson n had much more in is bag den him....n anyways u cant check him against weak oponents

  • CMIS on March 30, 2010, 14:18 GMT

    gupta.ankur get your facts straight. imran and sarfaraz were reversing it as early as the 70s, when wasim was still in his shorts

  • BrianCharlesVivek on March 30, 2010, 14:06 GMT

    Pace,precision,accuracy,swing,variety and finally line and length - these words probably come close in describing Akram s bowling. And he never banged the ball uglily,if there is a word as such, as Johnson. Shades of Akram is a correct word, just because both of them are left handers. NOthing much.

    Even his mommy can swing the ball in Newzealand, if Geoffrey had something to comment on this...:)

  • juzer_gunners on March 30, 2010, 14:00 GMT

    @ Gupta: i hope u recollect the inswingers from johnson during the ODI's agnst INdia.....He's broken Smith's finger three times in tests.....what else u want....

  • Percy_Fender on March 30, 2010, 13:57 GMT

    Wasim Akram was the greatest left arm fast bowler ever. Let us not be blasphemous by comparing anyone with him. Though he took 7 tests longer to get to 150 wickets than Johnson I do not think they can be talked of in the same breath. That is because of the repertoire Wasim commanded all through his career. Johnson has pace and is a wicket taking bowler even if he has been expensive at most times. It is the longevity of a player that puts him in his true bracket. Wasim lasted a long while and was relatively injury free. We have to wait and see how long Johnson lasts before we can seek a comparison with an all time great.

  • Abbyz on March 30, 2010, 13:49 GMT

    I am actually tired of getting any upcoming left arm pacer to be heralded as the next Wasim Akram. Irfan Pathan, Sohail Tanveer, Mohamed Amer, Mitchell Johnson, Wayne Parnell the list goes on. Every country has one upcoming bowler who media claims would be next Waz. This is not to say there wouldnt be another great left arm quickie but lets not be so quick to judge. The greatest thing about Wasim was not only his skill and intelligence with which he employed it, but the length of the period for which he sustained it. Let one these guys do it for the next decade and than they can probably make the claim to the throne. In the meantime, all you journalist, kindly spare us the trouble. I still watch the recording of the old games when I wish to see real class fast bowling - Wasim, Waqar, Donald, Walsh, Ambrose - what an era (I am getting nostalgic so I would shut up!!!)

  • Hassan.Farooqi on March 30, 2010, 13:47 GMT

    Despite all the talent, Wasim had to start his career as a of Imran, and remained under shadow of Imran and Sarfaraz, even Azeem Hafeez, Jalaluddin etc. Then he had to retire due to diabetes. However Johnson showed humbleness when compared to Wasim. Humble people go places where arrogant ones do not. So I am sure Johnson is a legend in making.

  • AV_Gautam on March 30, 2010, 13:45 GMT

    No comparisons with Wasim Akram please. Mitchell Johnson cannot touch the great Wasim Akram even with a barge pole. Mitchell Johnson is just one of the many good bowlers we have seen whereas Wasim Akram is a legend.

  • Sportz_Freak on March 30, 2010, 13:37 GMT

    hmm...whenever a batsman in the modern era (2000s) surpasses something that was set by someone in the 1990s the usual chorus is that batsmen nowadays have it easy with flat pitches and strong bats....hence their achievements have to be taken down a notch. So does that mean, conversely, if a bowler from the modern era surpasses something done by someone in the 90s...does that mean it is worthy of even more praise? I definitely think so.

    Look, I know Mitch is no Akram (as yet) but he is one of the top bowlers around and there is no reason he couldn't be spoken of in the same breath. He has the pace (probably more so than Akram), the swing and the guile. The only things missing is the reverse swing which he will hopefully aquire. He is just as talented a batsman as well and just like akram, sometimes squanders that batting talent. If he can keep this going there is no reason to think he cant be mentioned int he same breath as Akram.

  • mane_samrat on March 30, 2010, 13:25 GMT

    Mitchie-Mitch! wow...thats gr8 but,not enough to be compared to KING of SWING!...when his left hand couldnot swing the ball either ways..atleast a single way! And its too early ...consistency is the main factor, he lacked it...we cud see he was overshadowed by Dougy and others recently....and for now,he can only be under shades of Wasim,,but not a 'Wasim'!

  • dineshch on March 30, 2010, 13:18 GMT

    Yes the title is appropriate "Shades of Akram" not Akram. Johnson has come a long way but Akram is and will always be the best left hander pace bowler. Remember Akram played on sub-continent pitches with little to no help for pace yet took only 40 odd tests for 150. His variation was unparalleled, he could bowl every ball different from the ones he bowled earlier. Even with a shortened run up, towards end of his career, he was so deadly because of his variation. Akram is a legend and can never be paralleled.

  • 68704 on March 30, 2010, 13:14 GMT

    I am not sure if comparisons with Akram are appropriate at this point in time but Johnson"s best years may be ahead of him and while the piece speaks about his bowling today, there is no denying the fact that he has got 150 wickets in just 34 tests against all major opposition in different conditions. If Australia has not slipped to number five or six in the test rankings which they might well have done, it is mainly because of Johnson leading the pack. He has been the "go to ' bowler after Brett Lee left battered and bruised. He is a wicket taker and can turn the game around quickly . I also believe he is a thinking bowler with a subtle change in pace . All of this does not make him Akram , but then I bellieve it is not the smartest thing to compare cricketers across generations.We will then be talking about Alan Davidson next! Let us enjoy the few good to great cricketers we have instead of worrying about how they compare with the past. sridhar

  • bustermove on March 30, 2010, 13:10 GMT

    Wasim Akram was in my opinion the finest left arm fast bowler to grace the game...simply thrilling to watch in his pomp. I agree with you Gupta.Ankur that he was a wonderful swing bowler and his yorker was something to behold but methinks you dismiss Johnson's skills and potential a little too easily. Like batsmen the world over I haven't quite sorted it out myself but I suspect that Johnson's pace and angle are very hard to read because of his slingy action. Certainly his slower ball and "effort" short lifter are very well disguised and have gained him plenty of wickets. But almost every wicket he takes the batsman has this look of "What the hell happened there" on his face. Sometimes I don't think he has any idea what is coming out of his own hand next ball but in the "age of the batsman" you simply cannot deny figures of 150 wickets in 34 tests. By the way, Sarfraz invented reverse swing.

  • Shash28 on March 30, 2010, 13:07 GMT

    Yeah... this report will probably have alot of negative backlash but it' just a statistic and I don't think anyone here, including Mitch or his mother (or girl friend) is comparing him to Akram. Very different bowlers... Mitch has lost his inswinger, which makes him a totally different bowler to the one in South Africa, much to England's good fortune. As for Akram, Yes he is a legend and had much more than simply pace and swing... Mitch has shown some good brute force and so on and we should SIMPLY BE HAPPY that there are still bowlers out there to compete in a world of flat pitches, T20 and Mongoose bats lol... a small pack lead by the best contemporary bowler, Dale Steyn...

  • drinks.break on March 30, 2010, 12:50 GMT

    1. Akram wasn't the fastest left-armer to get to 150 wickets. Alan Davidson did it in 37 matches (to Akram's 41) and at the far superior average of 20.05 (to Akram's 24.37).

    2. @Gupta.Ankur, no one's suggesting that Johnson today is better than Akram ever was ... Akram played another 63 tests over 10 years after he reached the 150 wicket milestone, and his skills increased over that time. Who's to say that Johnson won't also improve? Also, everyone knows that Johnson bowled badly in the Ashes, but he's bowled very well in other series, especially against SA, when he twice broke Graeme Smith's hand and was able to swing the ball both ways. Did Akram really never bowl a single bad ball in his career, or never play against weak opposition? Can't you just admit that Johnson is a good bowler who has recorded a very impressive achievement by getting to 150 wickets so quickly?

  • popcorn on March 30, 2010, 12:34 GMT

    Mitchell Johnson is the best left arm fast bowler in cricket history. I suggest gupta.Ankur should see Videos of Johnson's 8 for 61 at Perth against South Africa, the injuries he inflicted on Graeme Smith at the SCG, his 2 wickets in his first over to dismiss Mckenzie and Amla,injure Graeme Smith in his second over,Jacque Kallis in his third over at Durban - he'll understand what is pace.

  • on March 30, 2010, 12:26 GMT

    Gupta. Ankur, i agree with you in the sense that a lot hype has been made about Johnson in recent times, some of which is probably unnecessary. And i know that currently, Johnson can not generate the immense amount of swing (in both directions) that made him dangerous to everyone. But from what the article says and from what i've seen from him these past 3 years, Johnson can produce the pace ( about or more than Wasim), vicious bounce and incredible angles ( the stuff that bowlers fantasize about) to disrupt most batsmen and , which has him earmarked as a potential future great.it is this angle at pace that i think has enabled him to be more successful early on his career than several great left armers of more recent times such as Zaheer khan and Chaminda Vaas. This is an attribute that Nehra has not displayed just yet.So i think Johnson is very much deserving of the record and whilst one cannot say as yet whether he will go anywhere to the greatness if Wasim, he could.

  • Carpediem_Zak on March 30, 2010, 12:17 GMT

    I agree 110% with G.Ankur ... Johnson is no where near Akram's class. This guy can't bowl 6 balls at the same line, while Akram was capable of bowling 6 yorkers in an over. Johnson is a "sprayer" at best !

  • on March 30, 2010, 12:07 GMT

    he is very best left hander bowler in modern cricket history...i wish to see him top of the cricket history

  • BrisVegan on March 30, 2010, 11:58 GMT

    Gupta you are obviously a passionate fan of Wasim Akram. Take nothing away from him, brilliant bowler and all-round cricketer. Instead of taking insult at the purported comparison of Mitchell Johnson to your beloved Wasim, please, please recognise the context in which the piece is written. The article is not saying that Mitch is as good as Wasim. Will he ever be? Probably not. BUT, according to the context of the article, which is the time taken for a left-armer to reach 150 wickets, YES Mitch is in the same vicinity as Wasim - this is a statistical fact. As for not rating Mitch against NZ - well how about South Africa - home and away before the Ashes? He destroyed the South African batting line up. Let's hope SA "rate" in your books.

  • on March 30, 2010, 11:46 GMT

    few years back irfan pathan was compared to akram now he is not getting a chance in team itself.So please stop comparing.let jhonson grow......

  • PrasKon on March 30, 2010, 11:27 GMT

    let us not get into hyperboles.. Johnson is nowhere in the league or class of Wasim.. it is insulting for Wasim to compare such a one-dimensional bowler with a master who could bowl 6 different deliveries in an over.. Johnson should be compared with a Bryan Strang n not the gr8 Wasim!!!

  • soajay on March 30, 2010, 11:14 GMT

    Johnson is a good bowler and a handy lower order batsman. Unfortunately, the media guys dont understand that you dont call someone GREAT just after 34 tests. He surely has a long way to go, but with the amount of cricket on cards, we still have to see how many climb the ladder off Greatness.

    Wish you luck Johnson.. Great Going!!!

  • Itchy on March 30, 2010, 11:12 GMT

    Johnson does indeed miss having the ball that comes back into right-handers on a regular basis but he still can bowl it occasionally (even in this test). When Johnson discovers how to bowl this delivery with consistency then he could be measured against Wasim. As for who he should be rated against - he did OK against South Africa when they were the No. 1 rated test team early last year.

  • pragnyavantha on March 30, 2010, 11:11 GMT

    Gupta, 7 tests quicker than Akram to 150 wickets, that is a large margin. Also, his 150 wickets came against all nations, not just the Kiwi's, and the Australian bowlers don't get to play as many matches against lower rated teams than some other nations do. Do I believe he is as good as Akram, over Akram's whole career, no, but credit where credit is due, at Johnson's stage in his career compared to Akram at the same stage, you would have to say Johnson has done very well by comparison. Oh, Johnson also has a better career strike rate. So please try to see things impartially and not be so subjective by making unfounded sweeping statements.

  • paramthegreat on March 30, 2010, 11:10 GMT

    yes absolutely and Ross taylor is the new Sachin Tendulkar

  • on March 30, 2010, 11:08 GMT

    The hype is there to get more reactions, more comments to this post. FACT- Wasim Akram mostly bowled on batting friendly wickets in Pakistan and India against Strong Indian batting line ups. Mitchell Johnson is doing good but drawing parallels is not good.

  • sunks on March 30, 2010, 11:07 GMT

    Surely wickets are wickets, whether he swings it or not. The fact that he has taken 150 wickets in 7 less games than Akram, apparently with only pace and angle, surely suggests he must be a pretty handy bowler. Wickets are the measuring stick, not how many different tricks you have. And I don't think all the wickets have come against the kiwis???

  • varunsanprabu on March 30, 2010, 10:52 GMT

    It's not so good to compare M.Johnson with legendary W.Akram... Johnson need to travel lot to reach Akram.. He knows that n everyone knows... Please dont make unnecessary comments abt such a key player of Oz.. it may harm him.. .. Johnson have a great chance to become the best bowler in the world... Let him perform n take wickets...

  • Waikato_FC on March 30, 2010, 10:46 GMT

    Settle down Gupta, if Johnson has got there quicker he must be pretty good. And there are suspicions of exactly how Akram got his reverse swing ...

  • Rajshahi on March 30, 2010, 10:28 GMT

    Don't forget that, Wasim Akram suffered from Type2 Diabetes almost whole his life,that should add up to his achievement phenominally.Legend??, more than that.

  • ghuman123 on March 30, 2010, 10:17 GMT

    No match for this lefty, Mitchell keep doing well, long way to go...

  • sobosan on March 30, 2010, 10:11 GMT

    Its a testament to the training and focus of the modern day cricketer that they can maintain the speeds and milestones that they do nowadays.

    Its a testament to the 'hype and circumstance' of the modern cricket press that they are so willing to anoint someone (anyone) as "the next so-and-so" based on (let's face it) rather arbitrary achievements.

    Being the 'fasted left-armed Sagittarius to take 50 wickets on the subcontinent' means absolutely nothing. Being Wasim Akram does.

  • on March 30, 2010, 10:06 GMT

    I think we should rate him against the kiwis, thay're a good side. Bur his performances against south Africa showed his quality. Also he must be doing well taking that many wickets without an inswinger. The speed if Johnson taking 150 wickets merely confirms just how good a bowler he is and will continue to be.

  • Devlin322 on March 30, 2010, 10:05 GMT

    @Mr.Gupta: The article does go on to quote greatbatch saying he is in a different mould than Akram but just as effective. Akram bowled at a time when pitched remained uncovered and were virtual greenbeds. That is not in any way a discredit to him but just goes to show conventional swing and bounce arent on offer with many of todays parks and with the status quo raw pace, seam/ angle are a better bet on these placid tracks which is what Johnson is threading. Each generation requires a different skill and if every bowler could reverse swing it both ways im not sure itd be a novelty item anymore. Also, there are only so many teams. He blasted the saffers, topped the wkt aggregate against the poms and same against the kiwis. Cant discount everyone you know. Id like to know what Indias pace dept is doing? peace

  • boooonnie on March 30, 2010, 9:52 GMT

    Mitchell is the Mark Waugh of Aust bowling - when he is on song there no better sight in cricket. However when he is not in form he is terrible (eg.The Ashes). We could hope and pray he finds some consistancy but would he lose his dangerous edge?

  • Wypinkara on March 30, 2010, 9:46 GMT

    Only shades, not the whole of Akram, Mr. Gupta. Once they used the same phrase for Ashish Nehra also. Quite reasonable. But Agree that Mitchell Johnson has a long way to go

  • AmanZubair on March 30, 2010, 9:38 GMT

    Ohh ... forget it. Johnson and Akram are miles apart in their talent

  • on March 30, 2010, 9:37 GMT

    cmon now we all know hes a good bowler but he has a long way to go before he can be compared to Wasim akram....Akram picked up wickets all over the world and a testament to his skill is tht he took most wickets in shrajah......whose track sidhu fondly called 'dead as a dodo'

  • Synaesthesia on March 30, 2010, 9:32 GMT

    Why all the Mitchell Johnson hate? Just because he had a poor patch in the Ashes ... He's a good bowler - as evidenced here yet again, and will long continue to be the spearhead of the Australian attack.

  • on March 30, 2010, 9:28 GMT

    Johnno has the speed which akram could only dream...

    way to go Johnno, you are the best bowler at present

  • Sorcerer on March 30, 2010, 9:11 GMT

    Wasim was in a league of his own. Bowling largely on unhelpful tracks and hamstrung by a poor fielding and catching side, he still went on to rack up extremely impressive bowling stats.

    Johnson is an excellent bowler, but to find anything more than "shades" of Wasim in him is futile.

  • Rev0408 on March 30, 2010, 9:09 GMT

    Gupta.Ankur - having had the pleasure of watching Johnson bowl in Australia this summer, I can assure you he can move the ball both ways - besides, shouldn't you be moaning about how NZ don't tour (even though they do)??? He's taken wickets all over and if you had paid any attention to Aus cricket after the Ashes, you will have noted that Troy Cooley has corrected a flaw in his action. I don't think there is anything wrong with the comparison - obviously the true picture will be clear at the end of his career. Johnson takes 2.30 wickets every innings, Akram takes 2.28. Johnson also has a slighty superior strike rate. Akram was amazing because of his ball control - he was a swing master but was also more economical. And as for ratings...well it's not as if Akram didn't cash in against the Kiwis either!!!

  • greatkhan on March 30, 2010, 9:01 GMT

    Honestly i dont think you need to compare someone with the great Wasim Akram. Johnson is an agrresive fast bowler no doubt but to reach the guile of the great Akram, might need decades of hardwork from johnson. Commenting on the 150 wickets took Akram more matches than Johnson, please pay attention against whom did Wasik Akram played and under which conditions. The conditions in Subcontinent are more suited for Spin bowling, where as its a fast bowlers delight in places like Australia, Newzeland etc......

  • arslan7777 on March 30, 2010, 9:01 GMT

    johnson may have taken his wkts in fewer matches but lets not forget that he played mostly on the bouncy and seaming wkts in australia while akram had to toil on dead subcontinent pitches...

  • Gupta.Ankur on March 30, 2010, 7:58 GMT

    Oh please! Spare us the hype! Johnson maybe taking wickets but he is no where close to Wasim Akram.

    Johnson lost his in-swing to right handers even before Ashesh last summer and the reason he is getting wickets is because of his pace and angle which takes ball away from righties...

    Akram not only had pace.......he swing the ball both ways,originated reverse-swing balling,had splendid yorker and much more.....

    And also lets not rate him against kiwis....

  • Just_Love_Cricket on March 30, 2010, 7:38 GMT

    Its natural for all left arm fast bowlers to be compared to the Great Wasim. He is a true legend..

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  • Just_Love_Cricket on March 30, 2010, 7:38 GMT

    Its natural for all left arm fast bowlers to be compared to the Great Wasim. He is a true legend..

  • Gupta.Ankur on March 30, 2010, 7:58 GMT

    Oh please! Spare us the hype! Johnson maybe taking wickets but he is no where close to Wasim Akram.

    Johnson lost his in-swing to right handers even before Ashesh last summer and the reason he is getting wickets is because of his pace and angle which takes ball away from righties...

    Akram not only had pace.......he swing the ball both ways,originated reverse-swing balling,had splendid yorker and much more.....

    And also lets not rate him against kiwis....

  • arslan7777 on March 30, 2010, 9:01 GMT

    johnson may have taken his wkts in fewer matches but lets not forget that he played mostly on the bouncy and seaming wkts in australia while akram had to toil on dead subcontinent pitches...

  • greatkhan on March 30, 2010, 9:01 GMT

    Honestly i dont think you need to compare someone with the great Wasim Akram. Johnson is an agrresive fast bowler no doubt but to reach the guile of the great Akram, might need decades of hardwork from johnson. Commenting on the 150 wickets took Akram more matches than Johnson, please pay attention against whom did Wasik Akram played and under which conditions. The conditions in Subcontinent are more suited for Spin bowling, where as its a fast bowlers delight in places like Australia, Newzeland etc......

  • Rev0408 on March 30, 2010, 9:09 GMT

    Gupta.Ankur - having had the pleasure of watching Johnson bowl in Australia this summer, I can assure you he can move the ball both ways - besides, shouldn't you be moaning about how NZ don't tour (even though they do)??? He's taken wickets all over and if you had paid any attention to Aus cricket after the Ashes, you will have noted that Troy Cooley has corrected a flaw in his action. I don't think there is anything wrong with the comparison - obviously the true picture will be clear at the end of his career. Johnson takes 2.30 wickets every innings, Akram takes 2.28. Johnson also has a slighty superior strike rate. Akram was amazing because of his ball control - he was a swing master but was also more economical. And as for ratings...well it's not as if Akram didn't cash in against the Kiwis either!!!

  • Sorcerer on March 30, 2010, 9:11 GMT

    Wasim was in a league of his own. Bowling largely on unhelpful tracks and hamstrung by a poor fielding and catching side, he still went on to rack up extremely impressive bowling stats.

    Johnson is an excellent bowler, but to find anything more than "shades" of Wasim in him is futile.

  • on March 30, 2010, 9:28 GMT

    Johnno has the speed which akram could only dream...

    way to go Johnno, you are the best bowler at present

  • Synaesthesia on March 30, 2010, 9:32 GMT

    Why all the Mitchell Johnson hate? Just because he had a poor patch in the Ashes ... He's a good bowler - as evidenced here yet again, and will long continue to be the spearhead of the Australian attack.

  • on March 30, 2010, 9:37 GMT

    cmon now we all know hes a good bowler but he has a long way to go before he can be compared to Wasim akram....Akram picked up wickets all over the world and a testament to his skill is tht he took most wickets in shrajah......whose track sidhu fondly called 'dead as a dodo'

  • AmanZubair on March 30, 2010, 9:38 GMT

    Ohh ... forget it. Johnson and Akram are miles apart in their talent