Australia in South Africa 2013-14 February 4, 2014

Johnson happy to be the intimidator

ESPNcricinfo staff
33

Mitchell Johnson is pleased to be considered Australia's enforcer ahead of the Test series against South Africa, but he is conscious of the way his career nosedived after he was in a similar situation in South Africa five years ago. This time around, Johnson has landed in South Africa as the reigning Allan Border Medallist and having just been Man of the Series in Australia's remarkable Ashes clean-sweep.

In 2009, he flew to South Africa having just broken Graeme Smith's left hand with a vicious, spitting delivery in the final Test in Sydney. Johnson responded with another outstanding display against the South Africans and was Player of the Series in the return contest in South Africa, and remarkably managed to break Smith's other hand during the Durban Test with another fast, rising ball.

However, the Ashes tour of England that followed later that year began a slump for Johnson, who struggled to replicate his exploits against South Africa. Now, more mature at 32, he hopes that he will again be able to cash in on his confidence and form against a team that has brought him some of his best memories in Test cricket.

"I'm happy to be the intimidator and to be talked of like that," Johnson told reporters in South Africa on Monday. "I'm coming over here after a great series being the intimidator against England. They've obviously seen all that, and I think they [South African spectators] are excited about seeing that as well

"I had a lot of English [supporters] come up to me after the series, and even through the series, and they were just saying how good it was and how it brought Test cricket back to life. It's great to hear those words. But I know I've been in this situation before. In '09, everything was going really well [and then declined], but I've learned from that. I'm not going to underestimate anything - I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing."

Johnson said his past success against Smith - as well as hitting him a number of times he has also dismissed him five times from eight Tests - should hold him in good stead on this tour.

"That stuff can be in the back of their minds, definitely. You hope so," Johnson said. "I've played against Graeme Smith a few times now and I've hit him a couple of times. I'm hoping that's still in the back of his mind. That hopefully gives you a bit of an advantage.

"But it is a new series and they are a tough opposition. They're very strong mentally and they're the No.1 side for a good reason. Once that Test series starts, we've got to start from scratch. We've got to keep improving as a cricket team. Our goal is to take them over, so it's a really important series for us."

Johnson's Ashes series has rocketed him up to No.8 on the ICC's Test bowling rankings, which means that the upcoming three Tests will feature the five best fast bowlers in the world based on those rankings. Vernon Philander and Dale Steyn are ranked Nos. 1 and 2 and Ryan Harris is third. Peter Siddle sits sixth on the ICC list but all the rest of the bowlers in the top eight are spinners.

However, the Australians will have to enter the series without match practice in the South African conditions after their four-day warm-up match in Potchefstroom, which was due to start on Wednesday, was cancelled due to persistent wet weather. Instead, they will have to train in Centurion and hope for some outdoor practice in the lead-up to the first Test.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Greatest_Game on February 4, 2014, 7:07 GMT

    As usual, it is a question of which Johnson turns up - miserable Mitch or magnificent Mitch.

    In The Ashes he was incredible! He bowled 188.4 overs, conceding 517 runs & taking 37 wickets at Ave 13.97, SR 30.5. That is a truly magnificent record, make no mistake. Amazing.

    In the ODI series he bowled 20 overs conceding 131 runs, taking just one, solitary wicket at Ave 131, SR 120. That is a truly miserable record, make no mistake. That record makes Ishant look like an enforcer!

    On his last trip to SA, miserable Mitch turned up. He bowled 62.1 overs & conceded 255 runs, taking 3 wickets at Ave 85, SR 125. That performance enforced absolutely nothin, except his record for being either full on & magnificent, or full off & miserable.

    The Saffers have seen both Mitches. Given that when he peaks he then crashes for a while, & that he did peak in the Ashes tests & crash in the ODIs, I reckon the Saffas are not shaking in their boots at Mitch the Enforcer. He seems to be back to miserable!

  • Tumbarumbar on February 9, 2014, 17:46 GMT

    Can any South African poster tell me exactly how your team is going to manage with only eleven players from now on. Kallis has always given you twelve players, actually given his batting average it was probably 12 and a quarter players, so it's going to take some getting used to. I can imagine it now, 'We've lost early wickets, but no problems Jaques will dig us out ...... Oh damn'. Or maybe, 'We need a breakthrough, roll your arm over Jaques. Jacques? Jacques? Damn".

  • on February 7, 2014, 12:49 GMT

    @ Greatest_Game. No, you are dead right. Mitch's sudden decline was inevitable. Anyone could see it occurring. It can only really occur further as your expert analysis will surely prove.

    In his current free fall he might even plummet as low as Morkel's best.

    By the way, I saw him rolling over his arm to some youngsters recently, and I again concur with you, as he really looked like he was in decline. Shame there isn't a T20 match coming up where you could further your rigorous analysis. Otherwise, try Mitch in a Test in January 2014, stretch it as far back as November (2013) if you want. Or take two ODI matches as your hope, sorry, analysis. ModernUmpiresPLz obviously watched the games.

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on February 5, 2014, 11:24 GMT

    @Greatest_game actually there is some fact to Mitch not having risked injury in the ODI's. If you look at the pace he was bowling it wasn't just down from his test match bowling speed (which is strange to see in the first place, to any degree) it was significantly down. Mid 130's. If he was bowling ~150 but all over the shop I would agree with you, but he was bowling medium pace in the ODI's. It still looked sharp, but it was nothing like what he was peppering the English test team with. It's all to do with having respect for SA, which Australia do. If we didn't respect SA we wouldn't trash talk pre series. We would just go on over, thrash the hell out of them, and come home. Ever since the Ashes ended the SA tour is the REAL focus of the Australian test team, don't be fooled by Australia talking about wanting to clean sweep England in all series blah blah. That's crap. We want to beat SA in SA, that's 100% the main goal.

  • on February 5, 2014, 4:57 GMT

    You really can't call it miserable form, based on 2 intermittent ODI's.

    If we look at Mitch's career for the past year IPL, ODI's in England and India, and the Ashes, You will see a bowler who is in charge of his destiny.

    As long as he can keep his head, be consistent and quick, He will deliver!

  • ShutTheGate on February 4, 2014, 23:29 GMT

    @ Greatest game

    Your premise for Mitch being out of form is comparing his performance in a 5 match test series compared to 2 ODI's.

    Apples and Oranges! I hope that you're correct in that the Proteas aren't shaking in their boots and think that he's miserable. That was Englands thought process before the ashes and we all know the result and three of their world class players are no longer with their team.

    Maybe as Mitch has matured and there are different coaches around him miserable Mitch won't return.

  • Greatest_Game on February 4, 2014, 15:42 GMT

    @ Shane Moy. Chill out dude. We are not "rubbishing" the man or the team…well from SA that is. This is called "discussion & debate." For pure rubbishing, read the comments on NZ's current matches, or jonesy2, RandyOz, etc.

    This dissuasion is about "Mitch the enforcer." What Bothan said is what he always says - far from reality! It is immaterial to this conversation. If you are suggesting that Mitch had miserable ODI figures cos he was "not risking injury" you are in Botham's league. If he was that concerned he would not have played, & bowled at ave 131. None of these players are deliberately bad!

    Know this: Saffas are not poms. We are pretty quick to admit to our many problems. And, get this straight: SA's very healthy lead in the rankings is no "on paper" rubbish - it was hard earned, including in Aus, facing Mitch.

    You have the next 8 days to enjoy your indignation. Make the most of that. If you are proved wrong, come back here and admit it, ok?

  • Greatest_Game on February 4, 2014, 15:18 GMT

    @ The_Miz wrore "Morkel like Mitch can bowl an incredibly hostile spell BUT not maintain that aggression over the course of a series like MJ. He is more of a steady bowler these days."

    You are dead right. Morkel can't do "hostile" well, & struggles to be outright aggressive. Steyn said if he could get Morkel really angry & aggressive, he would be the better bowler! His height & steep bounce gets him few lbw or bowled, but batsmen can find it hard to score. In the last 2 years, of his 70 wickets 13 were bowled, 5 lbw, & 52 (75%) caught, at econ 2.9. He ties batsmen up, chokes run rate, builds pressure & then Steyn & Philander reap the rewards. He is also consistantly better on unhelpful tracks.

    In THAT Adelaide test, in 49 overs (13 more than Steyn) he conceded 196 runs @ econ 4, & took 8 of SA's 18 wickets. Of both team's bowlers he took the most wickets, & the only 5 for - the match's most successful bowler, yet who noticed? He is very underestimated, & essential to SA's attack.

  • izzidole on February 4, 2014, 13:35 GMT

    Now that Johnson has declared himself as the intimidator a lot of responsibility rests on his shoulders. He has to deliver what's been promised otherwise he could get hit all over the park by the South African batsmen who will be waiting to take advantage to hit him out of the attack early on which could put a big dent on his confidence. An aussie victory in this series would depend very much on Johnsons thunderbolts. If the South African batsmen succumb to his guile and pace then defeat will be the only outcome. I am sure South African pacemen Steyn and Philander will also have their plans for the aussie batsmen who have been vulnerable to good fast bowling. It all depends which team has the fire power to crash through the opposition and the best batting lineup to counter any pace attack. I reckon this could be one of the greatest test series in recent times. The winner no doubt will be crowned the number one ranked team in test cricket.

  • siddhartha87 on February 4, 2014, 12:09 GMT

    i hope MJ turns on the beast mode again

  • Greatest_Game on February 4, 2014, 7:07 GMT

    As usual, it is a question of which Johnson turns up - miserable Mitch or magnificent Mitch.

    In The Ashes he was incredible! He bowled 188.4 overs, conceding 517 runs & taking 37 wickets at Ave 13.97, SR 30.5. That is a truly magnificent record, make no mistake. Amazing.

    In the ODI series he bowled 20 overs conceding 131 runs, taking just one, solitary wicket at Ave 131, SR 120. That is a truly miserable record, make no mistake. That record makes Ishant look like an enforcer!

    On his last trip to SA, miserable Mitch turned up. He bowled 62.1 overs & conceded 255 runs, taking 3 wickets at Ave 85, SR 125. That performance enforced absolutely nothin, except his record for being either full on & magnificent, or full off & miserable.

    The Saffers have seen both Mitches. Given that when he peaks he then crashes for a while, & that he did peak in the Ashes tests & crash in the ODIs, I reckon the Saffas are not shaking in their boots at Mitch the Enforcer. He seems to be back to miserable!

  • Tumbarumbar on February 9, 2014, 17:46 GMT

    Can any South African poster tell me exactly how your team is going to manage with only eleven players from now on. Kallis has always given you twelve players, actually given his batting average it was probably 12 and a quarter players, so it's going to take some getting used to. I can imagine it now, 'We've lost early wickets, but no problems Jaques will dig us out ...... Oh damn'. Or maybe, 'We need a breakthrough, roll your arm over Jaques. Jacques? Jacques? Damn".

  • on February 7, 2014, 12:49 GMT

    @ Greatest_Game. No, you are dead right. Mitch's sudden decline was inevitable. Anyone could see it occurring. It can only really occur further as your expert analysis will surely prove.

    In his current free fall he might even plummet as low as Morkel's best.

    By the way, I saw him rolling over his arm to some youngsters recently, and I again concur with you, as he really looked like he was in decline. Shame there isn't a T20 match coming up where you could further your rigorous analysis. Otherwise, try Mitch in a Test in January 2014, stretch it as far back as November (2013) if you want. Or take two ODI matches as your hope, sorry, analysis. ModernUmpiresPLz obviously watched the games.

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on February 5, 2014, 11:24 GMT

    @Greatest_game actually there is some fact to Mitch not having risked injury in the ODI's. If you look at the pace he was bowling it wasn't just down from his test match bowling speed (which is strange to see in the first place, to any degree) it was significantly down. Mid 130's. If he was bowling ~150 but all over the shop I would agree with you, but he was bowling medium pace in the ODI's. It still looked sharp, but it was nothing like what he was peppering the English test team with. It's all to do with having respect for SA, which Australia do. If we didn't respect SA we wouldn't trash talk pre series. We would just go on over, thrash the hell out of them, and come home. Ever since the Ashes ended the SA tour is the REAL focus of the Australian test team, don't be fooled by Australia talking about wanting to clean sweep England in all series blah blah. That's crap. We want to beat SA in SA, that's 100% the main goal.

  • on February 5, 2014, 4:57 GMT

    You really can't call it miserable form, based on 2 intermittent ODI's.

    If we look at Mitch's career for the past year IPL, ODI's in England and India, and the Ashes, You will see a bowler who is in charge of his destiny.

    As long as he can keep his head, be consistent and quick, He will deliver!

  • ShutTheGate on February 4, 2014, 23:29 GMT

    @ Greatest game

    Your premise for Mitch being out of form is comparing his performance in a 5 match test series compared to 2 ODI's.

    Apples and Oranges! I hope that you're correct in that the Proteas aren't shaking in their boots and think that he's miserable. That was Englands thought process before the ashes and we all know the result and three of their world class players are no longer with their team.

    Maybe as Mitch has matured and there are different coaches around him miserable Mitch won't return.

  • Greatest_Game on February 4, 2014, 15:42 GMT

    @ Shane Moy. Chill out dude. We are not "rubbishing" the man or the team…well from SA that is. This is called "discussion & debate." For pure rubbishing, read the comments on NZ's current matches, or jonesy2, RandyOz, etc.

    This dissuasion is about "Mitch the enforcer." What Bothan said is what he always says - far from reality! It is immaterial to this conversation. If you are suggesting that Mitch had miserable ODI figures cos he was "not risking injury" you are in Botham's league. If he was that concerned he would not have played, & bowled at ave 131. None of these players are deliberately bad!

    Know this: Saffas are not poms. We are pretty quick to admit to our many problems. And, get this straight: SA's very healthy lead in the rankings is no "on paper" rubbish - it was hard earned, including in Aus, facing Mitch.

    You have the next 8 days to enjoy your indignation. Make the most of that. If you are proved wrong, come back here and admit it, ok?

  • Greatest_Game on February 4, 2014, 15:18 GMT

    @ The_Miz wrore "Morkel like Mitch can bowl an incredibly hostile spell BUT not maintain that aggression over the course of a series like MJ. He is more of a steady bowler these days."

    You are dead right. Morkel can't do "hostile" well, & struggles to be outright aggressive. Steyn said if he could get Morkel really angry & aggressive, he would be the better bowler! His height & steep bounce gets him few lbw or bowled, but batsmen can find it hard to score. In the last 2 years, of his 70 wickets 13 were bowled, 5 lbw, & 52 (75%) caught, at econ 2.9. He ties batsmen up, chokes run rate, builds pressure & then Steyn & Philander reap the rewards. He is also consistantly better on unhelpful tracks.

    In THAT Adelaide test, in 49 overs (13 more than Steyn) he conceded 196 runs @ econ 4, & took 8 of SA's 18 wickets. Of both team's bowlers he took the most wickets, & the only 5 for - the match's most successful bowler, yet who noticed? He is very underestimated, & essential to SA's attack.

  • izzidole on February 4, 2014, 13:35 GMT

    Now that Johnson has declared himself as the intimidator a lot of responsibility rests on his shoulders. He has to deliver what's been promised otherwise he could get hit all over the park by the South African batsmen who will be waiting to take advantage to hit him out of the attack early on which could put a big dent on his confidence. An aussie victory in this series would depend very much on Johnsons thunderbolts. If the South African batsmen succumb to his guile and pace then defeat will be the only outcome. I am sure South African pacemen Steyn and Philander will also have their plans for the aussie batsmen who have been vulnerable to good fast bowling. It all depends which team has the fire power to crash through the opposition and the best batting lineup to counter any pace attack. I reckon this could be one of the greatest test series in recent times. The winner no doubt will be crowned the number one ranked team in test cricket.

  • siddhartha87 on February 4, 2014, 12:09 GMT

    i hope MJ turns on the beast mode again

  • amfas on February 4, 2014, 11:37 GMT

    I see a left arm quickie got both Smith & Amla in the SA warm up game. Maybe Mitch & Wayne had a quiet word last night......

  • amfas on February 4, 2014, 11:20 GMT

    Points to ponder in the upcoming series. Who will dominate the toss? I believe it will be a huge bonus to the winning captain!! Will there be significant changes to any of the ICC Rankings with regards to Team, Batsmen & Bowlers? Both teams have a lot to prove and play for here and just maybe the pressure asserted by the dominant team will decide the fates of many of the players current standings. How much will JK be missed by SA? When you look at the statistics of his last few tests with bat & ball, I think you would be foolish to underestimate the size of the hole he has left! Will the lack of a good spinner leave SA quick's with a little too much to do over the series? Paul Harris was the last spinner to get into the Aussies faces and I don't see anyone putting up their hand to fill the void! All in all I think this series will be a cracker and if the South African Grounds were bigger they'd fill up every ground for every day of the series.

  • THE_MIZ on February 4, 2014, 11:15 GMT

    @ Greatest_Game, mmm...the morkel vs Mitch comparison is a valid one. Agree that both have the pace, intimidation factor but are kind of 'mentally soft' and rhythm type bowlers. When they're good, they are devastating...when they're off...it's horrible.

    That however is where the similarity ends. Morkel like Mitch can bowl an incredibly hostile spell BUT not maintain that aggression over the course of a series like MJ. He is more of a steady bowler these days.

    MJ at his best is ideally the type of bowler SA hope Morkel should have/could have been. However, MJ is a bowler of extremes and is the more likely to may have a torrid series.

    This begs the question? Which would one prefer? Inconsistent Genius (MJ) or dormant Lion (Morkel)

  • Shaggy076 on February 4, 2014, 11:13 GMT

    GreatestGame; He was on a downward spiral the last time touring South Africa, he had only had the odd fleeting good game (namely at Perth against England and SOuth Africa) in the preceding years. Think he assessed he needed surgery after the last South African tour which saved his career, he had a mental break refreshed his action and has been on the improve ever since. I called for his inclusion in England on the back of his performances last summer as I have always thought he is our best left arm option. I'm looking forward to the series as SOuth Africa are a very deserving number one team and I think that AUstralia are going to bring a very good game. Should be some great cricket.

  • Shaggy076 on February 4, 2014, 11:08 GMT

    ThePacifist10; I think we need the batsman to do a lot more than Kohli, Pujara, Vijay and Rahane as India only averaged around 300 in the first innings which proved not enough runs. However, Im confident that Australia have the cattle on these tracks to perform at a higher standard than those that you mentioned.

  • Greatest_Game on February 4, 2014, 9:50 GMT

    @ Shaggy076. I agree that Johnson's one day figs are not an overwhelming indication the he is nosediving again, but because he is Mitch, there is always that question in the back of the mind…

    For the record, as far back as the 2012 Aus/SA series, when Aus fans had written him off & begged selectors not to pick him, I was defending him, as I know he can be devastating. (Notice I did not mention the 2008 tour to SA,.) I've always respected him, & when Pattinson/Starc/Cummins mania gripped Aus fans, I'd mention Mitch & get laughed at.

    Much as I like Mitch, & REALLY enjoyed watching him dissect poms, I'm hoping he's flat-lined again. It's fair to say my comments were more hope that his ODI form continues, not the claim that it will.

    Johnson reminds me of Morkel. Both are not "Enforcerers," but both can bowl scary quick, with nasty bounce, & hurt batsmen. Morkel has matches with phenom figs, especially his econ, & matches where he is ordinary. Like MJ. Softies, not enforcers, but scary

  • on February 4, 2014, 9:49 GMT

    Interesting feature article. So we are now comparing test performances with ODIs as if there are no differences between the formats. Additionally, we are stating how Johnson bowled 188.4 overs and then went into an ODI series .. overlooking the fact that, after 188.4 overs and then playing in several ODIs, AHEAD of the test tour of SAf, that Johnson is going to risk injury when the grand show is around the corner. Nice try. Johnson has never bowled as accurately as he did this last Ashes series. Read Cook's statements about how he found facing him in the tests, you will find that he stated Johnson's accuracy had improved significantly. We had almost unlimited hubris from English fans prior to the Ashes, Botham came out with his prediction of 5-0 England. "On paper" the England team was superior. We have seen all of this before. So go right ahead, rubbish the man and the team ... while you can. You have another 8 days until he and they prove you wrong. Make the most of it!!

  • JayPeg on February 4, 2014, 9:37 GMT

    Hero one minute zero the next. If SA control him they have the series.

  • ThePacifist10 on February 4, 2014, 9:08 GMT

    I'm predicting a series draw of 1-1. Australia have been spectacular while bowling and fielding. I'm not yet convinced about their batting though it's usually the former that wins matches. The batsmen need to do what Kohli, Pujara, Vijay and Rahane did. Who can do that in this Aussie line-up? My bets are on Hughes, Steve Smith, Watson and Clarke.

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on February 4, 2014, 9:06 GMT

    @Rahul I don't disagree with you, especially if the Australian top order fails to the new ball, but Steyn can be fairly benign during the middle overs when the ball hasn't started reversing yet, the shine is off the ball, and the seam has been battered a bit. Australia won't be bothered by some extra pace and bounce, in fact they relish it, unlike India for example(excluding Kohli/Pujara), so if they can survive the opening onslaught in a match or 2 it will be a great contest. That combined with the fact that Australia have a decent test spinner for the middle overs and SA do not is what makes this such a close call. I think a lot more rests on Lyon's shoulders here than people think, could be the series that defines the rest of his career. Especially since he prefers a track that bounces more than he cares whether it turns sideways.

  • Shaggy076 on February 4, 2014, 8:44 GMT

    Greatest Game; You have accurately stated Johnson's figures however, I feel those simple stats are not an adequate representation. I see the two notches, firstly the current Mitch and the one pre 2009. The wisden cricketer of the year, yet against England it was an even higher standard then when he was given that honour. Then there is the Mitch between 09 up until that last South African series that indeed was rubbish with the spasmodic good game that gave the impression he is always inconsistent. It must be pointed out after that SouthAfrican series he opted to have foot surgery to clear up something that was clearly bothering him. Since his return he has just gone from strength to strength and even in that one-day series he still howled well. His figures were inflated by late order runs often with the ball flying in spots wherevthe batsman did not intend. I have no problems believing the current Mitch is every bit as good as Steyn.

  • on February 4, 2014, 8:36 GMT

    Mitchell Johnson-No doubt a once in lifetime bowler!! He gonna be a true force to reckon in this Test series.but there is another man laughing secretly!! U guessed it right..Dale Steyn-the Greatest i have known(or all may have known)..How Australians manage to keep him at bay will be important because in the end we all know who the real Intimidator is???Don't you???

  • C.Gull on February 4, 2014, 8:15 GMT

    @Greatest_Game, your comments on Johnson's one-day form show the danger of an inadequate statistical sample taken out of context. Johnson (along with other senior Australian players) sat out much of the Aus-Eng ODI series and didn't take it overly seriously after his exertions (magnificent, as you say) in the Test series. It would be more useful to look at his performance in the Aus-India ODI series immediately before the Ashes, which was scary good (not scary in the Stu Broad/English batsmen sense).

  • dunger.bob on February 4, 2014, 8:00 GMT

    Mitch is as gentle as a sleepy kitten and just not the enforcer type. My 12 year old daughter is a much more intimidating personality than good old Mitch. Make no mistake gentleman, in real life Mitchell Johnson makes the Pope look like a Hells Angel.

    He just needs to bowl as naturally and instinctively as he has been lately. Don't change a damn thing. Line and length (Yes, I know it sounds unbelievable, but that's what he's been doing) with the occasional 'question' just to keep them honest. If he tries to do something too different to what he has been doing that's when he'll turn into @ GreatestGames 'miserable Mitch'.

  • on February 4, 2014, 7:49 GMT

    truecricfan: As far as I remember Johnson has done India a favor ahead of the WC in 2015. He made it emphatically clear that neither Suresh Raina nor Yuvraj Singh should occupy the #4 slot, come what may! In fact the #5 slow too for good measure. Last seen Yuvraj was playing Ranji trophy and Suresh Raina was managing the drinks in the last 2 ODIs in NZ. And mind you that was in India. I shudder to think these 2 batting at these positions in Australia. That India have bigger problems now is another story!

  • on February 4, 2014, 7:46 GMT

    Memo to Johnson: As well as you bowled against the English men, the South Africans are made of sterner stuff. They will not quit after a test match citing stress related illness nor will they abandon ship in the middle of the series. Be prepared to bend your back for the next month!

  • xylo on February 4, 2014, 7:13 GMT

    This should be a very good contest. While Johnson was at his best in the Ashes, the English batsmen were equally inept, and nowhere close to being the best that they once were. This SA side should be a better challenge, as long as they do not get into their comatose defence mode.

  • electric_loco_WAP4 on February 4, 2014, 6:51 GMT

    @truecric_fan - Very wrong there mate.Please buy self a T.V!Seems you didn't see how he had Ind bats hop all over the place and may have even wrecked career of couple of them in the series.All this on best batting beauts.ever in history to be laid out for an int. series.Same series where all other bowlers,all type-Ind and Aus-were going at 6s,7s,9s and 8s vs batsmen happy to charge on front foot,help themselves with 4s,6s and big tons.Only 1 bowler had the bats scared to be on the f/foot -your 'highly o/r' Mitch! Oh apart from being 'bowler of this gen.',the fastest -poss. best- in world ,in short a fantastic 1 at a time 1 can count on 1s fingers half decent fast men in the game- such's the scarcity-,has changed course of a few series in his team's favor on his on back a feat matched by very few of top spin/pace bowlers in the world a.t.m.Yes,at his lowest he may have 'chanced the course' other way too but it is all behind him! What character to be back as he did! The IPL too for MI!

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on February 4, 2014, 6:09 GMT

    @truecric_fan yeah because India is definitely the only place to really rate a quick bowler. Best surfaces for quicks in the world is certainly India, if you can't bowl a side out there you can't bowl them out anywhere unless you're lucky.

  • truecric_fan on February 4, 2014, 5:33 GMT

    Didn't they Indian batsman smack Johnson all over the ground and treat him like a high school bowler on Australias tour of India. He is a highly overrated bowler. Nowhere close to McGarth, Lillee or Thompson.

  • OneEyedAussie on February 4, 2014, 4:51 GMT

    The good news for Johnson is that the surfaces in SA will most likely suit him (as well as Siddle and Harris) quite well. The bad news is that I don't think the SA batsmen will roll over and die like the English did. Can Johnson replicate the speed and accuracy he showed in Australia? It's a tantalising prospect. I have my doubts, but I've been proven wrong before and would gladly be proven wrong again.

  • disco_bob on February 4, 2014, 2:28 GMT

    Good to see the MJ has put the mo back in mojo.

  • on February 4, 2014, 2:25 GMT

    This could be a very important series for Johnson. He needs to prove his consistency. He seems a world beater one series and then wayward the other. He has performed really well here both with the bat and the ball in SA, so keeping fingers crossed.

  • on February 4, 2014, 2:25 GMT

    This could be a very important series for Johnson. He needs to prove his consistency. He seems a world beater one series and then wayward the other. He has performed really well here both with the bat and the ball in SA, so keeping fingers crossed.

  • disco_bob on February 4, 2014, 2:28 GMT

    Good to see the MJ has put the mo back in mojo.

  • OneEyedAussie on February 4, 2014, 4:51 GMT

    The good news for Johnson is that the surfaces in SA will most likely suit him (as well as Siddle and Harris) quite well. The bad news is that I don't think the SA batsmen will roll over and die like the English did. Can Johnson replicate the speed and accuracy he showed in Australia? It's a tantalising prospect. I have my doubts, but I've been proven wrong before and would gladly be proven wrong again.

  • truecric_fan on February 4, 2014, 5:33 GMT

    Didn't they Indian batsman smack Johnson all over the ground and treat him like a high school bowler on Australias tour of India. He is a highly overrated bowler. Nowhere close to McGarth, Lillee or Thompson.

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on February 4, 2014, 6:09 GMT

    @truecric_fan yeah because India is definitely the only place to really rate a quick bowler. Best surfaces for quicks in the world is certainly India, if you can't bowl a side out there you can't bowl them out anywhere unless you're lucky.

  • electric_loco_WAP4 on February 4, 2014, 6:51 GMT

    @truecric_fan - Very wrong there mate.Please buy self a T.V!Seems you didn't see how he had Ind bats hop all over the place and may have even wrecked career of couple of them in the series.All this on best batting beauts.ever in history to be laid out for an int. series.Same series where all other bowlers,all type-Ind and Aus-were going at 6s,7s,9s and 8s vs batsmen happy to charge on front foot,help themselves with 4s,6s and big tons.Only 1 bowler had the bats scared to be on the f/foot -your 'highly o/r' Mitch! Oh apart from being 'bowler of this gen.',the fastest -poss. best- in world ,in short a fantastic 1 at a time 1 can count on 1s fingers half decent fast men in the game- such's the scarcity-,has changed course of a few series in his team's favor on his on back a feat matched by very few of top spin/pace bowlers in the world a.t.m.Yes,at his lowest he may have 'chanced the course' other way too but it is all behind him! What character to be back as he did! The IPL too for MI!

  • xylo on February 4, 2014, 7:13 GMT

    This should be a very good contest. While Johnson was at his best in the Ashes, the English batsmen were equally inept, and nowhere close to being the best that they once were. This SA side should be a better challenge, as long as they do not get into their comatose defence mode.

  • on February 4, 2014, 7:46 GMT

    Memo to Johnson: As well as you bowled against the English men, the South Africans are made of sterner stuff. They will not quit after a test match citing stress related illness nor will they abandon ship in the middle of the series. Be prepared to bend your back for the next month!

  • on February 4, 2014, 7:49 GMT

    truecricfan: As far as I remember Johnson has done India a favor ahead of the WC in 2015. He made it emphatically clear that neither Suresh Raina nor Yuvraj Singh should occupy the #4 slot, come what may! In fact the #5 slow too for good measure. Last seen Yuvraj was playing Ranji trophy and Suresh Raina was managing the drinks in the last 2 ODIs in NZ. And mind you that was in India. I shudder to think these 2 batting at these positions in Australia. That India have bigger problems now is another story!

  • dunger.bob on February 4, 2014, 8:00 GMT

    Mitch is as gentle as a sleepy kitten and just not the enforcer type. My 12 year old daughter is a much more intimidating personality than good old Mitch. Make no mistake gentleman, in real life Mitchell Johnson makes the Pope look like a Hells Angel.

    He just needs to bowl as naturally and instinctively as he has been lately. Don't change a damn thing. Line and length (Yes, I know it sounds unbelievable, but that's what he's been doing) with the occasional 'question' just to keep them honest. If he tries to do something too different to what he has been doing that's when he'll turn into @ GreatestGames 'miserable Mitch'.