South Africa v Australia, 1st Test, Centurion, 2nd day February 13, 2014

Johnson's intimidatory delight

  shares 45

#politeenquiries: 'Australia are coming for your babies'

Mitchell Johnson stopped short of invoking David Warner's infamous "scared eyes" line about England at the Gabba, but he could not disguise a sense of delight at wreaking havoc in South Africa once more, on a variable pitch he compared to that of Durban in 2009.

That of course was the scene of Johnson's most intimidatory spell previously in this country, but the impact of his first four overs at Centurion was every bit as sobering for South Africa, thrilling for Australia and exciting for any spectator who loves the sort of cricket that sets pulses racing. Behind the moustache, a mischievous, even childlike grin can pass across Johnson's face, the sort reflected by the growing number of youngsters who will now want to emulate his speed.

"I'm not trying to bowl 150km, but wickets like that and the ones we got in Australia, you're trying to bang it through there and be intimidating at certain times," Johnson said. "Hopefully youngsters coming through see it and want to do it as well ... there are less out there now. I think it's a great part of the game to have guys who can intimidate like that. Morne [Morkel] does it for them, I do it for Australia. You see the smiles on the kids' faces when you walk up the stairs. They really love it and so do I."

This day Johnson loved nothing more than to add another episode of pain to his long-running battle with Graeme Smith. Where in 2009 Smith twice suffered a broken hand courtesy of Johnson's speed, this time it was his ego that was fractured by a short ball he could neither play nor avoid, looping a catch to the slips. Not for the first time, Johnson suggested he had exhumed old doubts in Smith's mind.

"It's nice when a plan like that comes off and like I said earlier when I got here [in South Africa] it definitely is in the back of his mind what's happened previously," Johnson said. "He's done so well for his country and you just never know, but it was just one of those balls that took off. The wicket when I was batting felt like Morne was really getting the ball to go through, so it was just one of those good balls.

"It is something I will keep trying to bowl, it was one of my plans to bowl that short ball and I didn't really get a chance to swing the ball away from him. The first ball I bowled my plan was to go wide of the crease and get that angle, so we will have to see what happens in the second innings."

Another delivery that pleased Johnson was that to Faf du Plessis, arguably an even more fiendish ball than the one to account for Smith. Not as short in length, it leapt at du Plessis, who could offer only a bat raised in self-preservation and an edge to Michael Clarke. After another over Johnson was spelled, in keeping with the bowling coach Craig McDermott's preference for shorter bursts.

"It took off - it did surprise me as well," Johnson said. "I just felt like there was something going on with that wicket. It was a little bit like Durban a few years ago where it was just really skipping off. It did fly to Michael Clarke in the slips and he took it really well. If I can keep producing balls like that I'll be pretty happy.

"I'm not unhappy that I didn't bowl, he brought me back on pretty early afterward. Short spells have worked for me in the past, if you look back at the summer that's what worked for me, I don't think now I am going to bowl seven-over spells. Even if things are going well, we've still got to be smart about it and keep me fresh so I can keep bowling fast."

While the reactions of younger watchers stayed with Johnson, he was also regaled at times by familiar heckling from the boundary's edge. He admitted to offering the occasional retort, all part of the intimidator's role he has taken up with such relish in recent times, a considerable departure from the introspective and gentle soul he can be off the field.

"I can't really say what they were saying, nothing different to any other times I've been here," he said. "I did give a little bit back, I did say to a few of the guys out in the pool maybe they should use the toilet, they'd been sitting in there for a while.

"The role I've taken in this team is to be the aggressive bowler. That was my role in Australia and that's my role here. I think I've enjoyed it definitely, and when the wicket suits just like that ... I didn't think it would swing that much so I bowled a few more shorter balls. So it's just weighing up what the wicket's doing and what the opposition's doing as well."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on February 15, 2014, 10:16 GMT

    seeing wat pure pace can do i have serious respect for mr.gavaskar who played and scored against roberts, garner, marshall, holding,croft, thommo , lillee ryt now no team is capable of handling johnson on surfaces dat offer lil bit assistance to bolwers i cud only imagine how he batted against dese menacing guys on surfaces dat were helpful to bowlers and dat too without protective gaurds respect for u mr.gavaskar

  • on February 14, 2014, 17:08 GMT

    This reminds me of the 80s when West Indies had at least 3, and often 4, intimdating bowlers like MJ in their side. But rather then gettung kudos like MJ, they were often criticized for using such tactics, usually by the losing sides (althiugh Richie Benaud would praise them).

  • on February 14, 2014, 17:06 GMT

    johnson you beauty hats off ...rampage johnson

  • ScottStevo on February 14, 2014, 16:28 GMT

    @jb633, 'and were never winning it', um, I'd like to think that we were right in the hunt in that series and Eng were extremely fortunate that the 3rd test washed out as at 2-1 with 2 to play, I'd have still expected Eng to win, but certainly not the foregone conclusion you make it out to be...Referring to a scoreline spanking doesn't really wash well with anyone who watched and realised that series was close fought; and it's that same arrogance of believing you 'spanked' us that cost you so badly in Aus. Also, I think you're not giving enough credit to Harris who started the rot in Eng with his magnificent bowling, which he backed up in Aus too. Johnson was no doubt devastating and rightly man of the series, but you must also credit Haddin and Harris too. It's never a one man band in cricket...

  • ashankar on February 14, 2014, 11:07 GMT

    @AltafPatel and @DickCam. Both are talking about hosting each other. Any takers on visiting the other team? SA are better offs with the AWAY games. They truly are the brave.

  • DickCam on February 14, 2014, 10:33 GMT

    @AltafPatel, we're really looking forward to hosting India in Australia later this year. With our fast bouncy pitches, Johnson, Pattinson, Cummins, Starc etc all fit and bowling at 140k+. It truly will be a joy to watch. Tell me Alfa, do you think India are looking forward to it?

  • AltafPatel on February 14, 2014, 9:46 GMT

    These negative, body-language bowler should come India to taste the joy of being thresh. They already got so last year with 0-4.

  • arunsubbu on February 14, 2014, 9:40 GMT

    The SA's are going to be whitewashed.SA in their current form and talent dont deserve their current Test rankings.Philander and Morkel dont seem to be troubling them.In fact they couldnt trouble the indians who toured them a couple of months back.heck aussies not only bowl better but bat deep down.Its a np-contest for me.No offence To SA fans.i was their huge supporter during the times of donald,klusener,pollock,callaghan,fanie de villers etc..this team is miles away from them

  • jb633 on February 14, 2014, 9:22 GMT

    @ChrisP and Vishnu, wow pretty pathetic and defensive comments. I am not trolling here or going to make any excuses about the spanking you dished out to us. You guys are playing well and decimated us. My point was that you were spanked (scoreline wise) and even the likes of Clarke and Haddin will concede that. I am not comparing the two ashes in terms of performace because we were pathetic and you battered us. The point I am trying to make, before you get all twitchy, is the fact that Aus lost 3-0 and were never winning that ashes, however you want to spin it. Come the Aus series, Aus were bowled out cheaply and we thought here we go again. However the differnce was Johnson's spells in both innings and his destruction of our lower order at Adelaide. He was phenomenal and we couldn't cope. Evertything that happened post Gabba was due to the mental scarring Johnson had inflicted. Breath and just calm down before getting ultra defensive.

  • MaruthuDelft on February 14, 2014, 7:45 GMT

    @mondotv, how long are you guys and India going to live in denial? If the pitches are the reason for India not producing quickies how Pakistan keep producing world class fast bowlers? Lack of passion and to some extent lack of physical clout are the first reasons; but the one causes more damage is the lack of honesty example you.

  • on February 15, 2014, 10:16 GMT

    seeing wat pure pace can do i have serious respect for mr.gavaskar who played and scored against roberts, garner, marshall, holding,croft, thommo , lillee ryt now no team is capable of handling johnson on surfaces dat offer lil bit assistance to bolwers i cud only imagine how he batted against dese menacing guys on surfaces dat were helpful to bowlers and dat too without protective gaurds respect for u mr.gavaskar

  • on February 14, 2014, 17:08 GMT

    This reminds me of the 80s when West Indies had at least 3, and often 4, intimdating bowlers like MJ in their side. But rather then gettung kudos like MJ, they were often criticized for using such tactics, usually by the losing sides (althiugh Richie Benaud would praise them).

  • on February 14, 2014, 17:06 GMT

    johnson you beauty hats off ...rampage johnson

  • ScottStevo on February 14, 2014, 16:28 GMT

    @jb633, 'and were never winning it', um, I'd like to think that we were right in the hunt in that series and Eng were extremely fortunate that the 3rd test washed out as at 2-1 with 2 to play, I'd have still expected Eng to win, but certainly not the foregone conclusion you make it out to be...Referring to a scoreline spanking doesn't really wash well with anyone who watched and realised that series was close fought; and it's that same arrogance of believing you 'spanked' us that cost you so badly in Aus. Also, I think you're not giving enough credit to Harris who started the rot in Eng with his magnificent bowling, which he backed up in Aus too. Johnson was no doubt devastating and rightly man of the series, but you must also credit Haddin and Harris too. It's never a one man band in cricket...

  • ashankar on February 14, 2014, 11:07 GMT

    @AltafPatel and @DickCam. Both are talking about hosting each other. Any takers on visiting the other team? SA are better offs with the AWAY games. They truly are the brave.

  • DickCam on February 14, 2014, 10:33 GMT

    @AltafPatel, we're really looking forward to hosting India in Australia later this year. With our fast bouncy pitches, Johnson, Pattinson, Cummins, Starc etc all fit and bowling at 140k+. It truly will be a joy to watch. Tell me Alfa, do you think India are looking forward to it?

  • AltafPatel on February 14, 2014, 9:46 GMT

    These negative, body-language bowler should come India to taste the joy of being thresh. They already got so last year with 0-4.

  • arunsubbu on February 14, 2014, 9:40 GMT

    The SA's are going to be whitewashed.SA in their current form and talent dont deserve their current Test rankings.Philander and Morkel dont seem to be troubling them.In fact they couldnt trouble the indians who toured them a couple of months back.heck aussies not only bowl better but bat deep down.Its a np-contest for me.No offence To SA fans.i was their huge supporter during the times of donald,klusener,pollock,callaghan,fanie de villers etc..this team is miles away from them

  • jb633 on February 14, 2014, 9:22 GMT

    @ChrisP and Vishnu, wow pretty pathetic and defensive comments. I am not trolling here or going to make any excuses about the spanking you dished out to us. You guys are playing well and decimated us. My point was that you were spanked (scoreline wise) and even the likes of Clarke and Haddin will concede that. I am not comparing the two ashes in terms of performace because we were pathetic and you battered us. The point I am trying to make, before you get all twitchy, is the fact that Aus lost 3-0 and were never winning that ashes, however you want to spin it. Come the Aus series, Aus were bowled out cheaply and we thought here we go again. However the differnce was Johnson's spells in both innings and his destruction of our lower order at Adelaide. He was phenomenal and we couldn't cope. Evertything that happened post Gabba was due to the mental scarring Johnson had inflicted. Breath and just calm down before getting ultra defensive.

  • MaruthuDelft on February 14, 2014, 7:45 GMT

    @mondotv, how long are you guys and India going to live in denial? If the pitches are the reason for India not producing quickies how Pakistan keep producing world class fast bowlers? Lack of passion and to some extent lack of physical clout are the first reasons; but the one causes more damage is the lack of honesty example you.

  • ravi_hari on February 14, 2014, 7:28 GMT

    People like MJ come once in a long time. You had a Hall, Marshall, Thomson, Sarfaraz, Waqar, and now MJ. They all revelled on pace and intimidating the batsmen. They directed their deliveries so close to the batsmaan's body that if one does not use his bat, he better move away otherwise a bone or two will be broken. Today batsmen have all sorts of protection, yet they find it difficult to handle such pace. And it goes to the credit of bowlers like MJ who create that fear or doubt in the minds of the best batsmen around the world. I dont think MJ can continue for more than a year at the same pace, but during that time most batsmen especially openers will pray not to play Aus in tests. If he can sustain the pace upto WC15, it would be great for MJ. If he can win back the WC for Aus with his bowling, he would have done a world of good to his team. I dont think other countries can produce a MJ for themselves. They rather learn to tackle him than create a clone. Great stuff MJ, keep it goin

  • Pindia on February 14, 2014, 7:14 GMT

    Johnson vs Steyn should be an ongoing saga for a good few months... Steyn doesn't seem to put his biggest effort into the IPL so maybe this battle bodes well for Hyderabad who have a good enough squad to win the IPL if Steyn gives his all. I personally think Johnson is now the better bowler. I also think Pak have some quicks who could be as good...

  • Vishnu27 on February 14, 2014, 7:03 GMT

    jb633: "spanked" is 5-0. What you are referring to was a tussle, which England definitely had the rub of the green throughout the series. Lords was a huge defeat, nonetheless. However, a true spanking was delivered thoroughly over five tests in Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne & Sydney. With all the winning margins suggesting that England truly & comprehensively "spanked".

  • Chris_P on February 14, 2014, 6:51 GMT

    I would suggest those who bagged the Poms might want to retract their scorn. Why is it difficult to accept that an outstanding bowling effort should be recognized?

  • Chris_P on February 14, 2014, 6:46 GMT

    @jb633. With all due respect, the word spanked is a little over the top. One test was won by 14 runs, the other by 70, plus 2 rain affected matches with Australia on top. The Lords test was a flogging, but it could quite gave easily have been 4-1 our way with a bit of luck. Now the recent 5-0 scoreline doesn't only say just how much of a flogging each victory was. You care for for a test by test reminder? That aside, Ryan Harris is also a big factor here while Siddle & Lyon do not ease the pressure. It is a collective unit. You want the scary part now? Pat Cummins bowls quicker, is only 20 & has already decimated a stronger Bok batting line-up when he was 18. In Pattinson, Bird, Starc, Faulkner, Hazelwood & Copeland plus others, there is serious depth in the pace bowling.

  • Mervo on February 14, 2014, 6:17 GMT

    Good to see SA confronted with their own arrogance. It will shock them back to reality and this should be hopefully a close series.

  • BradmanBestEver on February 14, 2014, 5:25 GMT

    MJ = best fast bowler in the world today by a long way. He will be remembered as a cricketer with 2 careers - one before 2013 and one after 2012. Pre-2013 = erratic. Post-2012 = best fast bowler ever

  • CforCricketbuff on February 14, 2014, 5:14 GMT

    Considering Mitch's form & if he carries this form, when India goes down under at the end of year, I think all test matches should be 3- day matches. India will lose 4-0 too

  • My-Dear-Watson on February 14, 2014, 5:09 GMT

    @TEST_CRICKET_ONLY off course they are Lillee and Thomson, this was an auto correct thingy in its full glory. When I mentioned Kumble, it was a pun on the current Indian lot. BTW, Kumble used to bamboozled the batsmen , especially from the lower order with his fast yorkers. Kapil Dev is an icon, the best bowling all-rounder that India has produced till date. Indians are proud of him , But, here we are discussing fast bowlers, Kapil was not a genuine fast bowlers. @mondotv , spot on mate, pitch issue is not only holding the bowlers back, but also the Indian batsmen who have hard time in adjusting to the fast pitches around the world and are being labelled as flat tack bullies.

  • mondotv on February 14, 2014, 3:57 GMT

    @My-Dear-Watson. The reason India has never really developed genuinely quick bowlers is the pitches over there just don't reward decent quick bowlers. Instead they pound them into the ground so they just end up settling for medium pace. A look at the long list of really good quicks in Australia's current backup arsenal: Mitchell Starc, James Pattinson, Pat Cummins, Troy Copeland, Josh Hazlewood, doug Bollinger, Jackson Bird and I'll even throw Nathan Couter-Nile in there. So the answer is simple - with a billion people all India needs is some decent bouncy pitches and everything will change for them. It won't happen overnight but within a decade they'll start to come through the system. (BTW IShant's going OK this morning against the Black Caps)

  • Mark07 on February 14, 2014, 2:47 GMT

    Good to see some top class fast bowling and a bowler who intimidates batsmen with raw pace and tremendous skill.Mitch, has turned to be a great fast bowler. He is a treat to watch.

  • indianpunter on February 14, 2014, 2:44 GMT

    @nutcutlet, i concur completely.

  • AussieSakha on February 14, 2014, 1:40 GMT

    Hold on guys. The series is only 2 days old. AB, JP, Dale and Philander will have another crack at Aussies in this match. My prediction is 2-1 to SA.

  • satchander on February 14, 2014, 0:54 GMT

    I think without doubt, Mitchell Johnson is one of the greatest fast bowlers of all time. He has almost single handedly won the ashes and I am sure he is going to do the same in SA. I am shuddering to think what he is going to do to India when they tour Aus in Dec 2014, 0 - 4 series defeat seems guaranteed once again !

  • on February 14, 2014, 0:51 GMT

    Mitchell Johnson continues to defy his critics, me being one of them. Dennis Lillee is a legend because he has completely changed Mitchell for the better. He is like a left arm version of Joel Garner, bowling batsmen out through sheer intimidation. We doubted he would find it as easy against quality opposition like South Africa but he has once again proven us wrong. Lets hope he continues. I think its very harsh to criticize Graham Smith . Australians love and respect this man for his courage and determination and I think anyone would be intimidated by Johnson at the moment.

  • TEST_CRICKET_ONLY on February 14, 2014, 0:37 GMT

    @My-Dear_Watson - I must assume you are very young, as you clearly never saw Kumble bowl. He was a spin bowler. As you were talking about fast bowlers, I must assume you were thinking about Kapil Dev, who is the best fast bowler and also the best all-rounder India has produced. He was a great player of whom your country can be proud. P.S. It was Lillee & Thomson, not Lily & Thomas.

  • jb633 on February 14, 2014, 0:20 GMT

    @McWheels, spot on with that assessment. Johnson has made Aus into force. It has been Johnson and nobody else. The side that got spanked 3-0 in England is essentially the same but Johnson is now in it. He is on absolute fire atm and whilst i hated watching our guys (ENG) face it, I must say as a neutral it is great for the game.

  • Pindia on February 13, 2014, 23:57 GMT

    Johnson vs Steyn should be an ongoing saga for a good few months... Steyn doesn't seem to put his biggest effort into the IPL so maybe this battle bodes well for Hyderabad who have a good enough squad to win the IPL if Steyn gives his all. I personally think Johnson is now the better bowler. I also think Pak have some quicks who could be as good...

  • pat_one_back on February 13, 2014, 23:36 GMT

    MJ in current form is the most entertaining bowler to watch in modern times, certainly that I can recall, not since Warnie have I felt so compelled to watch every ball nor so dissappointed when an over ends.

  • chicko1983 on February 13, 2014, 22:36 GMT

    The end is for the South Africans, hope you enjoyed your "era of dominance" for the last year and a half at no1. Good thing you took all those victories you had a chance in and never settled for a draw, because you never know what is around the corner. Aussies will be no1 by March, just in time to win the world t20 cup then the odi World Cup down under. This is how you dominate cricket.

  • SaifQazi on February 13, 2014, 22:18 GMT

    It would had some viewing - Johnson running in to Kallis.

    Only time will tell (or probably already has) what would the absence of Kallis do to South Africa. He was their CHAMPION CRICKETER. Forget the numbers, the presence of the man in the dressing room made THE difference for the team. Who can forget that mauling of 434 and the SA enter in the dressing room all sombre and then Kallis says those famous words "Guys, they're 5 runs short"

    And Australians know that very well.

  • on February 13, 2014, 22:06 GMT

    Shaun Marsh might have had thoughts of the Man of the Match. But day 2 has belonged to Mitchell Johnson, 33 runs, 4 of the first six wickets, a catch, and the tailenders quaking in their boots, who has shown to the world that it wasnt a weak English team, even the world's number 1 team are struggling against MJ. And what a great send off of Faf du Plessis (the TV stations are not replaying it!). I think the second word was Pussy and the first made it a play on words...

  • Brahams on February 13, 2014, 21:04 GMT

    Always been fascinated with really scary fast bowlers. As a kid, my favorite bowlers were Malcolm Marshall and Imran Khan. Marshall was top notch, his bouncers were aimed right at the chin, and he could swing/cut when needed.

    When Johnson first came to the scene, I thought he was brilliant. Though he was bowling consistently at 150 km/h, he then started spraying the ball so much that the batsmen were looking forward to playing him. Great to see that he has now improved his wrist position and hitting the correct line/length consistently.

    Johnson is now walking the talk - he is entitled to it.

    Wonderful athlete - may his tribe multiply!

  • Alexk400 on February 13, 2014, 20:53 GMT

    He was erratic and it seems he is accurate now. His slinging action with speed is very unpredictable to guess length for batsman. He can wreak havoc in any pitch. We need more of slingers especially tall slingers are better.

  • on February 13, 2014, 20:43 GMT

    Batsmen have had it too easy for too long. Let's hope that we see a renaissance of really aggressive fast bowlers as Steyn has been ploughing a lonely furrow for a few years now. I do remember Lillee & Thompson; Holding, Garner, Croft & Roberts; Marshall; Walsh & Ambrose; Wasim & Waqar. As an England supporter they made my life a misery at times but also made the game great to watch.

  • on February 13, 2014, 20:41 GMT

    Johnson's come a long way in the last couple of years. I saw him bowl against Sri Lanka (Stuart Marsh's first series) and he was below average and very ordinary back then. Still have to see him bowl but it looks like he's become a genuine threat now.

  • Buggsy on February 13, 2014, 20:07 GMT

    I see the South African crowds are welcoming as usual. Almost as friendly as the English.

  • on February 13, 2014, 19:46 GMT

    @McWheels England doctored those pitches to be much slower to negate Australia's stronger bowling and bolster their stronger batting. Vaughan said recently on a podcast that in-spite of the score that series was even and I agree. The two draws were rained out Australian victories and important umpiring decisions favoured England.

  • Beertjie on February 13, 2014, 19:29 GMT

    It's a treat to witness this new Mitch in the flesh. Agree with other commentators about the buzz one gets from watching genuine menacing quicks. And I go back to seeing Gary Bartlett (New Zealand) and the debut of Peter Pollock!

  • IAMGOD on February 13, 2014, 19:20 GMT

    Those who used to take a dig at sub continent batsmen not being able to play fast short pitched bowling - it is apparent that nobody is able to play good short pitched bowling! What is pathetic about Indian team is that other teams have a bowler to terrorise/make life miserable for batsmen.. Indians have couple of trundlers...

  • on February 13, 2014, 19:11 GMT

    Smith has got to be left wondering just how he does go about it after that rather abrupt little contest and if he can get a couple more through Faf then he'll be left wondering too, one would imagine. Kind of reminds me a little of Cullinan and Warne, just on a completely different level. Enjoy it Mitch and keep it going!

  • McWheels on February 13, 2014, 19:04 GMT

    There speaks a man at peace with himself. He's relaxed, happy with his role, his performance, and justifiably proud of the effect it's having. He makes Aus's attack into a complete machine. Without him, Australia don't have anyone of this impact. Quite right he won the ashes, and he enhances the others around him. Funny that Aus had essentially the same attack minus Johnson in Eng & lost 3-0. If he gets injured, I think the rest don't have it to conjure the same magic.

  • Nutcutlet on February 13, 2014, 19:02 GMT

    Accuracy + extreme speed. Very rare. Used properly, as a top and genuinely fast bowler should be, (i.e. in very short bursts - max. 4 overs) and a captain has at his disposal the ultimate weapon in cricket. I think Mitch Johnson is becoming a great fast bowler. By the end of the third Test he may well have earned that genuine accolade, IMO.

  • My-Dear-Watson on February 13, 2014, 19:02 GMT

    Fast bowlers I believe should be cherished more than the batsmen. Its a delight to watch a fast bowlers in action, be it from any country . When you watch the spectators roaring , applauding and backing a bowler during his run-up, it totally says that how people enjoy their bowling. I did not have the pleasure to watch Lily, Thomas, and great Windies fast bowlers but Johnson, Akhtar, Wasim, Waqar, Bret Lee, Bond , Steyn have been loved and revered all over by cricketing fans even if they are playing against their own country. Its unfortunate and astonishing that I do not have any names from India to include in the list, but can we include Kumble, he use to bowl much faster than some of the "medium-fast" bowlers that the current team has.

  • Aussasinator on February 13, 2014, 18:44 GMT

    Aussies will decimate SA 3-0 in this series, I said so earlier. Smith can say goodbye to his captaincy and place in side.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Aussasinator on February 13, 2014, 18:44 GMT

    Aussies will decimate SA 3-0 in this series, I said so earlier. Smith can say goodbye to his captaincy and place in side.

  • My-Dear-Watson on February 13, 2014, 19:02 GMT

    Fast bowlers I believe should be cherished more than the batsmen. Its a delight to watch a fast bowlers in action, be it from any country . When you watch the spectators roaring , applauding and backing a bowler during his run-up, it totally says that how people enjoy their bowling. I did not have the pleasure to watch Lily, Thomas, and great Windies fast bowlers but Johnson, Akhtar, Wasim, Waqar, Bret Lee, Bond , Steyn have been loved and revered all over by cricketing fans even if they are playing against their own country. Its unfortunate and astonishing that I do not have any names from India to include in the list, but can we include Kumble, he use to bowl much faster than some of the "medium-fast" bowlers that the current team has.

  • Nutcutlet on February 13, 2014, 19:02 GMT

    Accuracy + extreme speed. Very rare. Used properly, as a top and genuinely fast bowler should be, (i.e. in very short bursts - max. 4 overs) and a captain has at his disposal the ultimate weapon in cricket. I think Mitch Johnson is becoming a great fast bowler. By the end of the third Test he may well have earned that genuine accolade, IMO.

  • McWheels on February 13, 2014, 19:04 GMT

    There speaks a man at peace with himself. He's relaxed, happy with his role, his performance, and justifiably proud of the effect it's having. He makes Aus's attack into a complete machine. Without him, Australia don't have anyone of this impact. Quite right he won the ashes, and he enhances the others around him. Funny that Aus had essentially the same attack minus Johnson in Eng & lost 3-0. If he gets injured, I think the rest don't have it to conjure the same magic.

  • on February 13, 2014, 19:11 GMT

    Smith has got to be left wondering just how he does go about it after that rather abrupt little contest and if he can get a couple more through Faf then he'll be left wondering too, one would imagine. Kind of reminds me a little of Cullinan and Warne, just on a completely different level. Enjoy it Mitch and keep it going!

  • IAMGOD on February 13, 2014, 19:20 GMT

    Those who used to take a dig at sub continent batsmen not being able to play fast short pitched bowling - it is apparent that nobody is able to play good short pitched bowling! What is pathetic about Indian team is that other teams have a bowler to terrorise/make life miserable for batsmen.. Indians have couple of trundlers...

  • Beertjie on February 13, 2014, 19:29 GMT

    It's a treat to witness this new Mitch in the flesh. Agree with other commentators about the buzz one gets from watching genuine menacing quicks. And I go back to seeing Gary Bartlett (New Zealand) and the debut of Peter Pollock!

  • on February 13, 2014, 19:46 GMT

    @McWheels England doctored those pitches to be much slower to negate Australia's stronger bowling and bolster their stronger batting. Vaughan said recently on a podcast that in-spite of the score that series was even and I agree. The two draws were rained out Australian victories and important umpiring decisions favoured England.

  • Buggsy on February 13, 2014, 20:07 GMT

    I see the South African crowds are welcoming as usual. Almost as friendly as the English.

  • on February 13, 2014, 20:41 GMT

    Johnson's come a long way in the last couple of years. I saw him bowl against Sri Lanka (Stuart Marsh's first series) and he was below average and very ordinary back then. Still have to see him bowl but it looks like he's become a genuine threat now.