Pakistan v Australia 2010 July 25, 2010

Johnson's woes mirror Australia's

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As a barometer of the Australian team, Mitchell Johnson is pretty accurate. The same can't be said of his bowling over the past two weeks. It was hard to imagine him having a worse tour of England than the Ashes trip last year but his efforts against Pakistan this month have been, statistically at least, inferior to his work against England.

It is a worry because much of his trouble in 2009 was put down the personal issues Johnson was dealing with off the field, which he himself later admitted was a distraction. There was no such drama on this occasion, so his three wickets at 72.33 against Pakistan - he did not take more than one wicket in any innings - can only be attributed to poor form.

Johnson bowled reasonably well in the first innings at Lord's without much luck, but by the second innings his line was wonky and his threat had disappeared. Not until the final morning of the Headingley Test, when it proved too late for Australia to salvage the match, did Johnson again bowl a challenging spell.

It was notable that Ricky Ponting went to Doug Bollinger and Ben Hilfenhaus first on the fourth morning in Leeds, when Australia needed seven wickets to pull off what would have been an incredible heist. The ball was not new, so that wasn't the reason for ignoring Johnson, who works better at first change but is nominally the spearhead of the attack.

Johnson was named the ICC Cricketer of the Year for 2009, but when he struggles so do Australia; this trip, the Ashes last year and the tour of India in late 2008 being cases in point. He will continue to work with the bowling coach Troy Cooley in an effort to regain his touch for the series in India and the Ashes later this year, after his form was a factor in Australia drawing 1-1 with Pakistan.

"There's endless work that's always done with Troy and the fast bowlers," the captain Ricky Ponting said after the Headingley loss. "Whether it be what you can see at our warm-up or training, or more often than not back in the change-rooms looking at footage and looking at things they've done well or maybe not done so well through the course of the game.

"We all want to play well all the time, but unfortunately that's not the way this game works. If you're going to win Test matches, you have to have five or six or seven of your guys playing well each game, and we probably didn't have that in this particular Test match."

Not that Johnson was alone in the underperforming attack. Despite the assistance for swing and seam, Bollinger, a hit-the-deck type, finds the English conditions troubling. He was barely a danger to the Pakistan batsmen until the final innings of the series, when he found some extra zip.

Hilfenhaus was the most impressive of the three main fast men, although he was still below his best, while Shane Watson proved the most capable of swinging the ball and was rewarded with 11 wickets. The results will put Peter Siddle, who is on the comeback trail from back stress fractures, and Ryan Harris back in the frame for the Tests against India and England.

"I've said for a while that I think that's the beauty about our squad at the moment, the depth that we've got, particularly in the fast bowling side of things," Ponting said. "Siddle is on his way back and is in very good physical shape, Ryan has had knee surgery and is probably a little bit behind at the moment. When you look at that as a group of fast bowlers, we will be able to come up with a group of guys there that will take 20 wickets more often than not in most conditions."

That they had trouble doing so in favourable conditions this month was a worry; remember, Marcus North picked up six wickets at Lord's. The attack will be more comfortable in their home conditions for the Ashes, but much will depend on Johnson regaining his accuracy.

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ozziefan08 on July 30, 2010, 10:37 GMT

    @ sonjjay totally agree with you on Peter Siddle but mate he is injured was considered for the pakistan series but couldnt get up for it, Stress fractures in the back take awhile to overcome. Johnson should be sent back to Domestic cricket in W.A where Mickey Arthur is coach now and has helped Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel two good fast bowlers come through SA system. North needs to go if he gets picked for the series in India then I should be a selector rather than the puppets we have now. I think Hussey's time is up in test match cricket as well. Australian selectors we need to be picking the younger kids that perform in domestic cricket now!! The Khawaja's, Bailey's, George's. Plenty of good young cricketers around or we will have another mass exodus of retiree's very soon. Drop Watson to 5 or 6 and I would also keep Paine behind the stumps did a fantastic job in England.

    Hughes, Katich, Ponting, Clarke, Bailey/Watson, Smith, Paine, Hauritz, Bollinger, Hilfenhaus, Siddle/George

  • sonjjay on July 29, 2010, 17:30 GMT

    Well there is one very noticeable omission that is Peter Siddle. I dont knw why the aussies sideline him infact i didnt see him in the match against Pakistan, i dont knw if he is inured bt a fully fit siddle sure will add more dimension to the aussie bowling attack. He has the strength of a horse and a workman like approach something our Indian bowlers need to learn from, hits the deck hard and can keep u in the game even on flat pitches. A great prospect bt ignored by the short sightedness of aussie selectors.

  • Anneeq on July 29, 2010, 14:42 GMT

    Iv never understood why Ponting and the Aus selectors perseveres with this guy, there's nothing brilliant about him at all. Bollinger to me is a better bowler than Johnson, and this argument that he's still learning etc is pretty stupid i mean the guys played over 40 tests. Learning time is over, nows the time to prove that ur worth. Its a shame really that Shawn Tait retired from tests, he would be a welcome inclusion for Ponting.Apparently Johnson's supposed to be an allrounder he aint anything of the like!!

  • Bayman on July 29, 2010, 11:03 GMT

    There seems to be two schools of thought here. One, that Johnson is great and just had a bad day and two, that Johnson is essentially rubbish. Personally, I lean toward the second view. Those who claim he is just inexperienced need to remember he's almost 29 and has played 36 Tests. He should just about know what's going on by now. The fact is his action is crap, his line and length are invariably crap and he doesn't seem capable of learning anything at all. I'm sure his trouble today is the same trouble he had four years ago. Hello Mitch, is anyone home? I agree, anyone can have a bad day but Johnson has bad tours. Even McGrath didn't take wickets all the time - but he always bowled well no matter the conditions. Be honest all you Johnson supporters, I bet there are times even you get frustrated at the sheer volume of absolute rubbish he sends down. As for those who say Douggie is a "hit the deck" bowler the answer is simple. Pitch it up, like Watson did, and..wickets!

  • bobagorof on July 28, 2010, 7:46 GMT

    I can't believe the comments saying 'Johnson's still learning, give him time' - he's played almost 40 Tests, plus a number of ODI's, which really should be enough for him to know what he's doing. He has some talent, but he's far too inconsistent and he's not been able to rectify that despite being in international cricket for a number of years. He still sprays the ball and hasn't learnt to swing it, despite working with Troy Cooley (the architect of England's Ashes 2005 triumph, based on swing bowling). So either the coach is not doing his job or Johnson doesn't learn. Maybe he needs to go back to domestic cricket and work on a few things. I also agree with the need to shake up the batting order - it's looking pretty fragile these days with 'the greatest batsman since Bradman' averaging around 40 over the last few years and definately on the decline. Move Watson down the order and start the transition to a new lineup by blooding a youngster or two.

  • Okakaboka on July 28, 2010, 1:58 GMT

    What about Wade as Keeper. He is a better bat than Haddin and Paine....Could potentially be as good as Gilchrist. He is younger than Paine and maybe a slightly better keeper. I suppose this is arguable but he is a hell of a lot better than fumble fingers Haddin. Wade and Paine should be 1 & 2 keepers. Both are potential guns..especially considering their age.

  • manasvi_lingam on July 27, 2010, 15:38 GMT

    Mitchell Johnson is still relatively inexperienced and he will learn. However he needs to be more committed and give his all: like Bollinger. An attack comprising of Bollinger, Hilfenhaus and one among Stuart Clark, Siddle and Johnson doesn't sound bad. However to use Watto to his full potential he needs to move to 5 or 6. I'm not convinced by North's batting or even his bowling. I think Khawaja would be the better option. Watto, Katich, Punter, Clarke, Khawaja, Hussey, Haddin, Hauritz, Johnson[?], Hilfenhaus, Bollinger is the best team at the moment.

  • Andy_P on July 27, 2010, 12:54 GMT

    Too right Behind_the_bowlers_arm. What made McGrath so great was not just his wickets, but the pressure he applied through his economy, paving the way for other bowlers to pick up wickets too. Take a look through Stuart Clarks record and aside from one poor innings last ashes, he took valuable wickets and applied almost the same amount of pressure. Just look at the impact he made at Leeds last year! I don't care how old he is. With that record, he deserves more of a chance, while with Johnson's record, he's already had too many chances.

    I'd love to see the selectors actually learn from history. Why they feel the need to find a new formula is beyond me. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Bringing back Clark as a senior and experienced bowler, along with his economy and McGrath-like abilities, would be a substantial influence on Bollinger and Hilfenhaus. We never needed a super-express bowler in the past and don't need one now.

  • Fan84 on July 27, 2010, 10:56 GMT

    MItch has always been a great bowler for the Aussie team, he is most liked by his skipper, for his ability to bowl at a speed exceeding 150kmph even with a "oldest" ball ,, that too in test ..he has proved himself, maybe he didn't bowl good this time, but i wish him good luck next winter and tour of india, I always Surprise,, how great RICKY PONTING and his confidence of batting first even during his must win games,,that is OZ,, they are WORLD CHAPMS,Tat's teh confidence he has on his batsmen and bowlers like him, tait , bastmen like "Great' Watson and ofcourse himself.. go aussie,, this is ur fan from CALCUTTA INDIA,,,

  • landl47 on July 27, 2010, 6:47 GMT

    Johnson had a bad tour, but he's that kind of bowler. When he's good he can be a matchwinner, but when he's bad he goes for a lot. What he needs is a steady, accurate bowler from the other end and in this series he didn't get it. Bollinger was a complete bust with the new ball and although Hilfenhaus was the best of the three, he still wasn't consistent. Harris or Siddle might be better, but forget Clark, he's too old, and Bracken has never been a test match bowler. When you take into account the lack of form of Australia's top 6 batsmen, and Ponting's erratic captaincy, Australia's going to struggle against a good England team in the Ashes series.

  • ozziefan08 on July 30, 2010, 10:37 GMT

    @ sonjjay totally agree with you on Peter Siddle but mate he is injured was considered for the pakistan series but couldnt get up for it, Stress fractures in the back take awhile to overcome. Johnson should be sent back to Domestic cricket in W.A where Mickey Arthur is coach now and has helped Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel two good fast bowlers come through SA system. North needs to go if he gets picked for the series in India then I should be a selector rather than the puppets we have now. I think Hussey's time is up in test match cricket as well. Australian selectors we need to be picking the younger kids that perform in domestic cricket now!! The Khawaja's, Bailey's, George's. Plenty of good young cricketers around or we will have another mass exodus of retiree's very soon. Drop Watson to 5 or 6 and I would also keep Paine behind the stumps did a fantastic job in England.

    Hughes, Katich, Ponting, Clarke, Bailey/Watson, Smith, Paine, Hauritz, Bollinger, Hilfenhaus, Siddle/George

  • sonjjay on July 29, 2010, 17:30 GMT

    Well there is one very noticeable omission that is Peter Siddle. I dont knw why the aussies sideline him infact i didnt see him in the match against Pakistan, i dont knw if he is inured bt a fully fit siddle sure will add more dimension to the aussie bowling attack. He has the strength of a horse and a workman like approach something our Indian bowlers need to learn from, hits the deck hard and can keep u in the game even on flat pitches. A great prospect bt ignored by the short sightedness of aussie selectors.

  • Anneeq on July 29, 2010, 14:42 GMT

    Iv never understood why Ponting and the Aus selectors perseveres with this guy, there's nothing brilliant about him at all. Bollinger to me is a better bowler than Johnson, and this argument that he's still learning etc is pretty stupid i mean the guys played over 40 tests. Learning time is over, nows the time to prove that ur worth. Its a shame really that Shawn Tait retired from tests, he would be a welcome inclusion for Ponting.Apparently Johnson's supposed to be an allrounder he aint anything of the like!!

  • Bayman on July 29, 2010, 11:03 GMT

    There seems to be two schools of thought here. One, that Johnson is great and just had a bad day and two, that Johnson is essentially rubbish. Personally, I lean toward the second view. Those who claim he is just inexperienced need to remember he's almost 29 and has played 36 Tests. He should just about know what's going on by now. The fact is his action is crap, his line and length are invariably crap and he doesn't seem capable of learning anything at all. I'm sure his trouble today is the same trouble he had four years ago. Hello Mitch, is anyone home? I agree, anyone can have a bad day but Johnson has bad tours. Even McGrath didn't take wickets all the time - but he always bowled well no matter the conditions. Be honest all you Johnson supporters, I bet there are times even you get frustrated at the sheer volume of absolute rubbish he sends down. As for those who say Douggie is a "hit the deck" bowler the answer is simple. Pitch it up, like Watson did, and..wickets!

  • bobagorof on July 28, 2010, 7:46 GMT

    I can't believe the comments saying 'Johnson's still learning, give him time' - he's played almost 40 Tests, plus a number of ODI's, which really should be enough for him to know what he's doing. He has some talent, but he's far too inconsistent and he's not been able to rectify that despite being in international cricket for a number of years. He still sprays the ball and hasn't learnt to swing it, despite working with Troy Cooley (the architect of England's Ashes 2005 triumph, based on swing bowling). So either the coach is not doing his job or Johnson doesn't learn. Maybe he needs to go back to domestic cricket and work on a few things. I also agree with the need to shake up the batting order - it's looking pretty fragile these days with 'the greatest batsman since Bradman' averaging around 40 over the last few years and definately on the decline. Move Watson down the order and start the transition to a new lineup by blooding a youngster or two.

  • Okakaboka on July 28, 2010, 1:58 GMT

    What about Wade as Keeper. He is a better bat than Haddin and Paine....Could potentially be as good as Gilchrist. He is younger than Paine and maybe a slightly better keeper. I suppose this is arguable but he is a hell of a lot better than fumble fingers Haddin. Wade and Paine should be 1 & 2 keepers. Both are potential guns..especially considering their age.

  • manasvi_lingam on July 27, 2010, 15:38 GMT

    Mitchell Johnson is still relatively inexperienced and he will learn. However he needs to be more committed and give his all: like Bollinger. An attack comprising of Bollinger, Hilfenhaus and one among Stuart Clark, Siddle and Johnson doesn't sound bad. However to use Watto to his full potential he needs to move to 5 or 6. I'm not convinced by North's batting or even his bowling. I think Khawaja would be the better option. Watto, Katich, Punter, Clarke, Khawaja, Hussey, Haddin, Hauritz, Johnson[?], Hilfenhaus, Bollinger is the best team at the moment.

  • Andy_P on July 27, 2010, 12:54 GMT

    Too right Behind_the_bowlers_arm. What made McGrath so great was not just his wickets, but the pressure he applied through his economy, paving the way for other bowlers to pick up wickets too. Take a look through Stuart Clarks record and aside from one poor innings last ashes, he took valuable wickets and applied almost the same amount of pressure. Just look at the impact he made at Leeds last year! I don't care how old he is. With that record, he deserves more of a chance, while with Johnson's record, he's already had too many chances.

    I'd love to see the selectors actually learn from history. Why they feel the need to find a new formula is beyond me. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Bringing back Clark as a senior and experienced bowler, along with his economy and McGrath-like abilities, would be a substantial influence on Bollinger and Hilfenhaus. We never needed a super-express bowler in the past and don't need one now.

  • Fan84 on July 27, 2010, 10:56 GMT

    MItch has always been a great bowler for the Aussie team, he is most liked by his skipper, for his ability to bowl at a speed exceeding 150kmph even with a "oldest" ball ,, that too in test ..he has proved himself, maybe he didn't bowl good this time, but i wish him good luck next winter and tour of india, I always Surprise,, how great RICKY PONTING and his confidence of batting first even during his must win games,,that is OZ,, they are WORLD CHAPMS,Tat's teh confidence he has on his batsmen and bowlers like him, tait , bastmen like "Great' Watson and ofcourse himself.. go aussie,, this is ur fan from CALCUTTA INDIA,,,

  • landl47 on July 27, 2010, 6:47 GMT

    Johnson had a bad tour, but he's that kind of bowler. When he's good he can be a matchwinner, but when he's bad he goes for a lot. What he needs is a steady, accurate bowler from the other end and in this series he didn't get it. Bollinger was a complete bust with the new ball and although Hilfenhaus was the best of the three, he still wasn't consistent. Harris or Siddle might be better, but forget Clark, he's too old, and Bracken has never been a test match bowler. When you take into account the lack of form of Australia's top 6 batsmen, and Ponting's erratic captaincy, Australia's going to struggle against a good England team in the Ashes series.

  • on July 27, 2010, 4:10 GMT

    @MarkScully I think round about now would be a true assessment of ponting's captaincy ( or a lack thereof)...with the team he had earlier, lalit modi's lawyers could've captained them and they would've still won...

  • Markus971 on July 27, 2010, 1:09 GMT

    M.Johnson still has a lot to learn, said A.Davidson some 2 yrs ago.. Still a very true comment! Look at the footage of your Bowling in S.A & your other good spells! & 'Work on it' --The 12 to tour India S.Kat,P.Hugh, R.Pont,M.Clark,M.Huss,S.Wat B.Hadd,M.John,N.Haur,B.Hill,D.Boll,,S.Smith to come in if N.Haur fails in the 1st... -- After the Ashes M.Hussey will prob. have to go, With S.Smith coming into 6, allowing for an extra Bowler & an intimadating line-up for another 2 yrs!!

  • Okakaboka on July 27, 2010, 0:52 GMT

    There are a lot of valid arguments here about Australia's bowling woes although the batting inconsistency is a bigger problem. I would suggest, having been a tennis coach myself, that technique is a very important factor in a fast bowler reaching their full potential. Many contributers to this forum hit the nail on the head regarding Johnston's technical flaws. You cannot swing it or place the ball correctly if your technique is all over the park. Sorry, we need a better bowling coach. The best around is Damien Fleming.....Look at his strike rate and test bowling average. He was the best swing bowler I have seen to the point of being unplayable in humid conditions. The point is he was technically excellent. Look at old replays and look how he landed the ball on the seam every time....Oh, and the new ball lasts longer if you bowl seam upright. Johnston stuffs the ball which shortens the effective bowling time for Bollinger and hilfenhaus. And who is the current bowling coach????? Ummm??

  • NeilCameron on July 26, 2010, 21:57 GMT

    Johnsons's current form is problematic, but his last few series have been outstanding. Even McGrath had a few bad matches. How MJ performs on the subcontinent will be an important factor in determining his future potential.

  • BillyCC on July 26, 2010, 21:34 GMT

    gazwilliam and 68704, excellent points. Johnson does not know the right techniques to be effective in conditions that may not suit him. And the batting remains a big issue. My theory, the partnerships don't know how to work together. The best partnership at the moment is between two players Katich and Watson batting out of position. Ponting seems to have forgotten his role in batting partnerships. Hussey has forgotten for a while now. And North is just not a good fit for any batting partnership because he is not decisive in his attack or defence.

  • BillyCC on July 26, 2010, 21:23 GMT

    Mark Scully, surely you don't believe that this Australian team is great. After 2006, it is an average team that has been achieved some bad results (losing at home to South Africa and being trounced in India in 2008), average results (eg. this drawn series), some above average results (beating South Africa in South Africa), and some great results (16 test matches in a row). So by your own definition, Ponting is a good captain, not great but good since you say a good captain can make his side achieve some great results.

  • Sutty101 on July 26, 2010, 12:31 GMT

    The_LionKIng = Absolutely 100% spot on!

    Siddle and North are just not up to the standard of an Australian side, pure and simple... Look for blokes like Usman Khawaja and Phillip Hughes to be absolute stars when given an adequate opportunity, and I'm already tipping Trent Copeland to be a top performer for Australia once he gets an opportunity (Big call since he's played like 5 first class games)

    I also don't believe Tim Paine is Australia's no.2 keeper... Matthew Wade has average 48.88 with the bat in the past 2 sheffield shields, Tim Paine about 30.5, and has much less keeping dismissals than Wade... Honestly, please who knows how Hilditch, Boon, Hughes and Cox still have the Australian selectors jobs?

  • Behind_the_bowlers_arm on July 26, 2010, 12:08 GMT

    Have always thought Stuart Clark very harshly treated while Johnson seems to be allowed periods of utter utter dross where he looks like a 5th grade bowler because he comes up with some good spells. Think Australia just have to accept they are going through a spell of mediocrity. The fact that Watson and North were the wicket takers says it all. The strike bowlers were embarrassed in comparison to Pakistans and the batting was generally ill-disciplined and lacking grit.

  • Jethro77 on July 26, 2010, 11:05 GMT

    I think because of his superhuman tour of South Africa in early 2009, everyone expected Mitch to be a matchwinner everygame, which was not only unfair, but unrealistic. I still think Johnson, Bollinger and Hilfenhaus is Australia's best pace attack, unfortunately Siddle will probably squeeze back in because Ponting loves him.

  • Okakaboka on July 26, 2010, 10:57 GMT

    Peter Siddle is deperately needed by the Australian team. His 'take no prisoners' Merve Hughes approach and genuine passion make him a great team bowler. People forget he is younger than the rest of the fast bowlers and when bowling well is clearly Australia's best bowler. If you take North out of the slips and put someone like White in there who can actually take a slips catch then Siddle and Hilfenhaus will increase their wicket tallies. Actually, North can't bat either...why are they keeping him....??

  • LiamF on July 26, 2010, 10:40 GMT

    I hope Mitch sharpens up soon. Would be nice if he got a game in for WA one of these days...

    I know he's had some injury problems but in my opinion when he's fully fit, Stuart Clark should never be out of the squad, much less without a contract. I can't believe he didn't play at Lord's last year.

  • Robbo1985 on July 26, 2010, 9:49 GMT

    lion king, mate the only reason Watson is opening is because of the fact that North is at 6. We all know that that Watson has struggled in the last few tests, but he is our best player right at this moment. He needs to bat at 6 like he should have from the beginning and with him batting lower Ponting can utilize his bowling more cause quite clearly he is the best swing bowler we have. North needs to go. Hughes or Phil Jaques remember him??? the guy averages a touch under 50 in tests as a genuine opener bring him in to help out Katich and maybe it will take the strain off ponting who has been getting to the crease far to early lately. And every1 lay off Ponting he is our greatest batsmen since bradman and the only man who can bat at 3 as an attacking batsmen no one else is the country can do this at this point in time.

  • FIPL on July 26, 2010, 9:33 GMT

    @ Arjun Popat : Mitchell Johnson is definitely very overrated bowler, if I am in my touch he can't get me out all day forget about international players. If someone out to M Johnson; it will be because of batsman's mistake rather then his bowling. And please stop comparing M Aamir with him who is far ahead of M Johnson and all fast bowlers in the world including No. 1 India. Any comments will be welcome

  • dsig3 on July 26, 2010, 9:12 GMT

    "Withdraw your side from Intl Cricket"? Typical subcontinent reaction. Johnson is a wildcard. He will win us some and sometimes he wont. When he isnt on song we need consistant bowlers to take the load and not get totally destroyed. We didnt get that against pakistan. I am more concerned about bollinger who should make his living bowling good lines and lengths. Hilfy will be mediocre if its not swinging and will likely get injured when he plays in Aus. I predict Mitch will win us the ashes.

  • on July 26, 2010, 8:52 GMT

    the prob is ponting! they say a good captain can make an average team gain great results but ponto can make a great team achieve average results!

    SACK HIM

  • Tigg on July 26, 2010, 7:50 GMT

    Posted by ScottNZ on (July 26 2010, 00:13 AM GMT) "Its because Johnson uses the SAME approach and bowls at SAME length on the SAME line. " Ummmmmm so did McGrath? and he was one of the most succesfull pace bowlers of all time... Johnson is just an overrated cricketer, pure and simple.

    I think the point was that he typically bowls the wrong length consistantly. Mcgrath bowled the same line and length but he also always bowled the right line and length for the pitch and the conditions.

    Johnson's main trouble seems to be his economy rate. When he's not taking wickets/bowling well he typically leaks runs. You've got to leave a player of his caliber in the side but if he isn't firing North, Watson and Katich will have to take up some of the slack.

  • gzawilliam on July 26, 2010, 7:50 GMT

    I think we have all missed the point here. The main problem Johnson has is he never learned the basics of fast bowling. He learnt how to bowl , how to get strong , and how to bowl fast. But it seems he never learnt how to put the seam straight. It was amazing watching the difference between Aamer and Johnson over the last 2 tests. One has a perfect rythmic action and a high arm release with the seam straight. The other has a jerky freight train action , low arm release and a seam pointing permanently to leg slip. When will the austalia coaching team see that its only a matter of time when his pace drops and batsmen realise that angling across right handers isn't going to work.

    I for one would never take a fast bowler to England without at least 90% of deliveried hitting the seam. Peter George would of done a way better job against pakistan. Sad but its true.

  • redneck on July 26, 2010, 7:13 GMT

    these wouldnt be indians commenting on fast bowlers now would it? it couldnt possibly be, given their poor excuses for fast bowlers playing in sri lanka at the minute! mitch single handedly smashed south africa off the bull ring in the 1st test last year, and i have no doubt he can do it again! steyn and aamer aside johnson would have to be the next best bowler in the world. so what if he struggles in england, were not due their for another 4 years now! plenty of time to fix that blip before 2013! he'll come good, just wait! i only hope some international batsmen are thinking the same as some of these comments. they're in for a suprise if they are thinking that!

  • andrew-schulz on July 26, 2010, 6:27 GMT

    How the hell can you say Johnson struggled in India in 2008? He was superb, and carried the attack in tough conditions. It is because of that, and his efforts in SA last year, that those who call for his head need to be tolerated but scoffed at. But at least professional writers need to watch some cricket and get some facts right. Your summary of that Indian tour is worse than ignorant.

  • chickenpoo on July 26, 2010, 6:08 GMT

    @Tony about 4 months ago, when he took ten wickets against new zealand

  • Puppster23 on July 26, 2010, 5:29 GMT

    Mitch and Dougie are hit-the-deck type of bowlers, and in conditions where its important to keep the up, they would obviously struggle. This is a problem with most current Aussie quicks, and it would take some doing to fix this, but still its silly to write off Dougie or Mitch just yet, but if they perform like this during the Ashes, then other options should be looked at.

  • jonesy2 on July 26, 2010, 5:19 GMT

    hahahahaa i love how people just love to get on the backs of aussie champions when ever they dont dominate for a week or something. sad sad sad people

  • 68704 on July 26, 2010, 5:05 GMT

    I think this is a completely lopsided article. To blame Australia"s woes on Johnson is very convenient. How much did Australia score for God"s sake? A colossal 88! And even a score of 180 was defendable if Watson had not dropped a sitter. I think Australia"s batting has been struggling for quite some time now . Johnson can bowl better and he has taken wickets at crucial stages, particularly with the older ball. I think Australia should stop looking for people to replace McGrath and Warne and try to build an all round side and that should certainly mean replacements for North immediately and Hussey in the not too distant future in test matches at least. It would help if Ponting made more runs as the batting has depended on him. My suggestion to the media and the people who are getting after Australian bowlers, just get off their backs and just hope that their batsman come good against India and England. It is not Mitch who is the problem.It is the batsmen! Ramanujam Sridhar

  • Itchy on July 26, 2010, 4:39 GMT

    @Aussasinator : Injuries are not Johnson's problem - lack of proper technique seems to be the issue.

    Also this Aus bowling line-up is very inexperienced by their standards (Bollinger 10 tests, Hilfenhaus 11 tests, Johnson 36 tests, Smith 2 tests, Watson 20 tests).

    @VinDoshi : No idea why Stuart Clark continues to be ignored although he was injured during last first-class season. Bracken has been injured for a while.

  • Andy_P on July 26, 2010, 3:17 GMT

    The only thing consistent about Mitchel Johnson is his poor economy rate. Far too expensive. Averaging our his great form with poor form, I really have to question his value. Stuart Clark was cast aside far too prematurely. Through experience, Hilfenhaus and Bollinger just need to find a bit more consistency, and economy, and Australia would have a bowling attack who could apply immense pressure. Clark, Hilfenhaus, Bollinger would be my seam attack!

  • The_LionKIng on July 26, 2010, 2:53 GMT

    Ponting will use any excuse to try and get Siddle back in. Surely Bollinger is allowed one average series. He still does average 24 with the test ball which is terrific. Our problems stem from Watson failing as an opener - his wickets have masked his poor opening form with the bat. Hussey and North also continue to fail but Punter loves these 2.

  • srivatsan on July 26, 2010, 2:45 GMT

    Mitch should have been a history long ago!, wondering why/how Cricket Australia is so dumb these days. Stuart Clark is a much better test bowler. This guy Tim Nielson is another humungous waste, does not have any Aussie trait in his blood. Guys if you lose this Ashes withdraw your side from Intl Cricket. It's a shame that will haunt you for centuries!!

  • on July 26, 2010, 1:48 GMT

    When did we last see him do something - anything - decent? It's been a while.

  • ScottNZ on July 26, 2010, 0:13 GMT

    "Its because Johnson uses the SAME approach and bowls at SAME length on the SAME line. "

    Ummmmmm so did McGrath? and he was one of the most succesfull pace bowlers of all time...

    Johnson is just an overrated cricketer, pure and simple.

  • on July 26, 2010, 0:00 GMT

    This might be true, but have you all forgotten the Perth test match against South Africa? I was there, and on a really disapointing, flat pitch, Johnson managed to get something, and he got 8 wickets in the innings, his career best figures. We then went on to loose the test. (Had Johnson not taken those 8 wickets, the game probably would have been a draw, ironically enough.)

  • BillyCC on July 25, 2010, 23:30 GMT

    I have been in the camp for dropping Johnson even before the 2009 Ashes. He has not improved in technique for four years. His best makes the most outstanding bowler in the world, but he rarely shows his best. As the number one strike bowler in the side, you not only have to take wickets but your form affects the other bowlers in the side as well. The problem for Australia is that they are lean in the fast bowling department. Even if they drop Johnson, I can't see a lineup of Siddle, Hilfenhaus and Bollinger winning back the Ashes. Johnson needs to be there for that brilliant spell of bowling where he takes 5 wickets in a spell even though it might happen once in a 5-test series.

  • thewayitwas on July 25, 2010, 22:16 GMT

    astounding so many of you are writing him off! he is only young remember! 27 with probably 30 test matches he will be approaching his peak soon you all need to be patient. Gone are the days of incredible consistency day in day out that Mcgrath had.. now people can see just how RARE that was! This is how fast bowlers are give him time..however he cannot rest on his laurels coz there is clearly something that needs to be done, but i wont stand for such harsh statements towards him!

  • on July 25, 2010, 22:03 GMT

    Stop criticising Mitch. He's a top-class bowler who can bowl at well over 90mph. Put it this way, he was quicker than all the Pakistan bowlers in the series, bar Aamer maybe. And there are times when he will take wickets, and times when he won't. In SA he bowled brilliantly, and got wickets, and everyone praised him. Now he struggles, and you say he's overrated. Leave him be, he'll sort it out. And you forget his batting, which is good enough to be number 7 in most batting line-ups.

  • on July 25, 2010, 21:46 GMT

    It's good to read some knowledgeable comments from astute watchers of the game. just remember guys, there is always another champion out there waiting for his chance.

  • on July 25, 2010, 18:15 GMT

    Its because Johnson uses the SAME approach and bowls at SAME length on the SAME line. He's so predictable with his bowling, and because he stands so close to the stumps batsmen know the balls either coming at them or going far outside the off-stump. He can't swing it and he isn't bowling 92 miles an hour anymore, i think his on the slippery-slope

  • Winsome on July 25, 2010, 16:40 GMT

    I'm so fed up with the 'drama' around Johnson's bowling. So bored with wondering which bowler we'll see, the ok one, the really poor one, the outstanding one or the pretty good one? Unfortunately it's about a quarter for all of them and I've had it with him.

    Send him back to the Warriors and see if Arthur can't get him to grow up.

  • Aussasinator on July 25, 2010, 16:36 GMT

    Johnson's best is behind him. He uses his arm and shoulder for generating speed and not his run up. That makes him injury prone. But I like to see Bollinger and Hilfenhaus bowl. There's better economy of effort and greater use of overall body propelling for speed. What Australia is missing is not a tearaway quick but a wily, accurate and regular wicket taker like Glen Mcgrath. He was the major matchwinner for them in all conditions. But one cant keep missing him forever. What if West Indies complain of missing Marshall & Holding or Garner. They never did it.

  • AncientAstronaut on July 25, 2010, 15:39 GMT

    It's incredible that they don't pick Nathan Bracken and Stuart Clark when they have such a mediocre attack! Johnson has got to be one of the most overrated bowlers in the world today. If England win the Ashes in Australia this year, it's going to be the death knell for both Johnson and Ponting. That should be fun :-)

  • SaifQazi on July 25, 2010, 15:11 GMT

    jus a small illustration of sum of the most out n out FAST bowlers on their outings in England, startin from Jeff Thompson,

    Jeff Thompson Mtchs-11 Wkts-42 Avg-31.30 S/R-61.7 Brett Lee Mtchs-10 Wkts-29 Avg-45.44 S/R-64.5 Shoaib Akhar Mtchs-01 Wkts-01 Avg-64.00 S/R-114 Shaun Tait Mtchs-02 Wkts-05 Avg-42.00 S/R-57.6 Fidel Edward Mtchs-07 Wkts-19 Avg-44.89 S/R-62.9 Mitchell Johnson Mtchs-07 Wkts-23 Avg-37.73 S/R-56.3

    if u ask me, thats not too bad for a bowler in England.. the trouble is, Mitch doesnt enjoy the liberty to ball freely with the likes of McGrath, Lillee n Gillespie on the other end..

  • on July 25, 2010, 14:36 GMT

    aussies should have given m.hussey and mit.johnson rest.they have played for a long time. then usman khawaja could have met his old team and show them his good talent.on the other hand steve o'kefe also demanded a place.this aussie team began to play a fast innings.test is all about to wait and score runs in situations where team is newly building

  • bobagorof on July 25, 2010, 14:22 GMT

    To say that "when [Johnson] struggles so do Australia" is a bit obvious - as the leader of an inexperienced pace attack, one of 3 specialist pace bowlers (Shane Watson is used as an afterthought by Ponting) and with no threatening spin option used, Johnson's job is to get wickets. If he doesn't, there are only two other men in the side who can regularly do the job - and to expect them to bowl 60-70 overs between them each innings is a big ask. In addition to this, when Johnson is off-form his is very expensive, which places additional pressure on the rest of the attack.

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  • bobagorof on July 25, 2010, 14:22 GMT

    To say that "when [Johnson] struggles so do Australia" is a bit obvious - as the leader of an inexperienced pace attack, one of 3 specialist pace bowlers (Shane Watson is used as an afterthought by Ponting) and with no threatening spin option used, Johnson's job is to get wickets. If he doesn't, there are only two other men in the side who can regularly do the job - and to expect them to bowl 60-70 overs between them each innings is a big ask. In addition to this, when Johnson is off-form his is very expensive, which places additional pressure on the rest of the attack.

  • on July 25, 2010, 14:36 GMT

    aussies should have given m.hussey and mit.johnson rest.they have played for a long time. then usman khawaja could have met his old team and show them his good talent.on the other hand steve o'kefe also demanded a place.this aussie team began to play a fast innings.test is all about to wait and score runs in situations where team is newly building

  • SaifQazi on July 25, 2010, 15:11 GMT

    jus a small illustration of sum of the most out n out FAST bowlers on their outings in England, startin from Jeff Thompson,

    Jeff Thompson Mtchs-11 Wkts-42 Avg-31.30 S/R-61.7 Brett Lee Mtchs-10 Wkts-29 Avg-45.44 S/R-64.5 Shoaib Akhar Mtchs-01 Wkts-01 Avg-64.00 S/R-114 Shaun Tait Mtchs-02 Wkts-05 Avg-42.00 S/R-57.6 Fidel Edward Mtchs-07 Wkts-19 Avg-44.89 S/R-62.9 Mitchell Johnson Mtchs-07 Wkts-23 Avg-37.73 S/R-56.3

    if u ask me, thats not too bad for a bowler in England.. the trouble is, Mitch doesnt enjoy the liberty to ball freely with the likes of McGrath, Lillee n Gillespie on the other end..

  • AncientAstronaut on July 25, 2010, 15:39 GMT

    It's incredible that they don't pick Nathan Bracken and Stuart Clark when they have such a mediocre attack! Johnson has got to be one of the most overrated bowlers in the world today. If England win the Ashes in Australia this year, it's going to be the death knell for both Johnson and Ponting. That should be fun :-)

  • Aussasinator on July 25, 2010, 16:36 GMT

    Johnson's best is behind him. He uses his arm and shoulder for generating speed and not his run up. That makes him injury prone. But I like to see Bollinger and Hilfenhaus bowl. There's better economy of effort and greater use of overall body propelling for speed. What Australia is missing is not a tearaway quick but a wily, accurate and regular wicket taker like Glen Mcgrath. He was the major matchwinner for them in all conditions. But one cant keep missing him forever. What if West Indies complain of missing Marshall & Holding or Garner. They never did it.

  • Winsome on July 25, 2010, 16:40 GMT

    I'm so fed up with the 'drama' around Johnson's bowling. So bored with wondering which bowler we'll see, the ok one, the really poor one, the outstanding one or the pretty good one? Unfortunately it's about a quarter for all of them and I've had it with him.

    Send him back to the Warriors and see if Arthur can't get him to grow up.

  • on July 25, 2010, 18:15 GMT

    Its because Johnson uses the SAME approach and bowls at SAME length on the SAME line. He's so predictable with his bowling, and because he stands so close to the stumps batsmen know the balls either coming at them or going far outside the off-stump. He can't swing it and he isn't bowling 92 miles an hour anymore, i think his on the slippery-slope

  • on July 25, 2010, 21:46 GMT

    It's good to read some knowledgeable comments from astute watchers of the game. just remember guys, there is always another champion out there waiting for his chance.

  • on July 25, 2010, 22:03 GMT

    Stop criticising Mitch. He's a top-class bowler who can bowl at well over 90mph. Put it this way, he was quicker than all the Pakistan bowlers in the series, bar Aamer maybe. And there are times when he will take wickets, and times when he won't. In SA he bowled brilliantly, and got wickets, and everyone praised him. Now he struggles, and you say he's overrated. Leave him be, he'll sort it out. And you forget his batting, which is good enough to be number 7 in most batting line-ups.

  • thewayitwas on July 25, 2010, 22:16 GMT

    astounding so many of you are writing him off! he is only young remember! 27 with probably 30 test matches he will be approaching his peak soon you all need to be patient. Gone are the days of incredible consistency day in day out that Mcgrath had.. now people can see just how RARE that was! This is how fast bowlers are give him time..however he cannot rest on his laurels coz there is clearly something that needs to be done, but i wont stand for such harsh statements towards him!