Australia in South Africa 2013-14 February 17, 2014

Johnson the avenging angel

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Michael Holding believes Mitchell Johnson's reign of pace bowling terror is providing an overdue reckoning for batsmen grown impure of technique and slow of reaction by years of bullying bowlers of nothing like the same speed. He has also counselled administrators, coaches and spectators to cherish Johnson while he lasts, and work harder to nurture future examples of the express fast bowler.

No spectator at Centurion during the first Test was better placed to assess Johnson's impact than Holding, given his own famed ability to generate the highest pace from a run-up and bowling action far more graceful yet equally powerful. From the commentary box, Holding felt the same heady mix of exhilaration and apprehension he himself caused over the course of 60 Tests, and pointed out this dimension of the game had been missing in recent years with the retirement of Brett Lee and the gradual erosion of Dale Steyn's pace.

"What Mitchell Johnson did in this Test match and in the Ashes is add a new dimension to what you've seen over the past five or six years in Test cricket," Holding told ESPNcricinfo. "We haven't seen too many people bowl with that sort of aggression and that sort of pace, and I think it's finding out some batsmen who have been quite comfortable over the past five or six years with the medium pacers they've had around.

"Dale Steyn has been quick ... but Johnson has exhibited a great deal more pace and a lot more aggression. Pace is the game changer. A lot of bowlers are brilliant, Glenn McGrath was a fantastic bowler, but he didn't have the effect this man is having. With that much pace it's all about 'this man can hurt me as well as get me out', and that changes the entire dynamic of the game."

Holding and Johnson can both be lauded for producing performances of the highest order on dead pitches - the West Indian's 14 for 149 at The Oval in 1976 and the Australian's 7 for 40 on Adelaide Oval's drop-in strip to turn the Ashes irrevocably the way of the hosts earlier this summer. But Centurion had more the ring of Old Trafford from the same series in 1976, when an untrustworthy pitch made for an altogether more macabre spectacle.

Johnson had been given pause when asked whether he derived more satisfaction from a ball striking the stumps or a batsman, and Holding hoped there was no desire in any fast bowler to cause physical damage. What he felt more important was the threat of inflicting pain serving to change a batsman's approach, something Johnson has done frequently in recent months in part due to his much improved control.

"I wouldn't want to be thinking a fast bowler gets any pleasure out of the thought of hitting anyone," Holding said. "You get pleasure out of the thought that you know they're afraid of you and you have that extra element to your game. If you have that skill of getting the ball in the right area, what you're hoping is the batsman will fend it off or do something to get out. Even if he doesn't get out it passes closely and he thinks in his mind 'oh that was close, that could have been dangerous'.

"At various times through the 1970s and 1980s when we had the fast bowling attack we had, we had that effect on the opposition. You go out as a fast bowler and you see the body language of the opposition players. They know exactly what's happening. Proper fast bowling adds a different dimension to you as a person if you are bowling fast and you see people hopping around. It stays in the mind, and it affects the person who is hopping around as well.

"Johnson's got control now he didn't have before. Obviously in the time he's spent away from the game, Dennis Lillee has worked with him, that has done a lot of good, because pace alone isn't going to do it, you've got to have the control to put the ball where you want to. If you bang the ball into the pitch and it's flying all over the place that doesn't really matter, it has to be well directed."

To reach the level Johnson has done at the age of 32 is in some ways a contravention of conventional wisdom about fast men, namely that by the early 30s their speed has begun to depreciate. Holding said this could be partly explained by the amount of time Johnson has taken to mature his method, but suggested that not even an athlete as powerful as the left-armer could maintain such heights indefinitely.

"Mitch had come back after being out of international cricket for a while," he said. "If for instance Dennis Lillee had got him early and sorted him out and he was doing this early in his career, he wouldn't be doing it to South Africa now. He would not be able to bowl as fast as he's bowling now for an extended period of time. Impossible. You're not going to stay at that pace for 10-12 years.

"A prime example is Brett Lee ... he retired early to make sure he could continue to play Twenty20 and earn big bucks. You cannot fault him for that, but that's the nature of the game we are playing now. The amount of cricket being played means guys are going to do that, and even guys who want to stay with Test match cricket, they are going to make sure their careers are going to be stretched out a bit more by not bowling as fast."

As for the emergence of other bowlers to rival Johnson's speed and the pre-eminence Australia are building around it, Holding said that while none could be manufactured, they could certainly be better identified and taught, citing the poignant example of England's misfiring Steve Finn, a bowler capable of 150kph at his best.

"You can't make them," Holding said. "If it was simple as that you'd just send young bowlers into the gym and tell them to bowl fast. When countries do find someone with that ability to bowl fast they need to know how to deal with it, and that is why England have destroyed Steve Finn.

"They need to know how to deal with people who have the natural ability to bowl fast - not everyone can. You can't just say everyone is going to search ... I've heard that for donkey's years, and people tried to copy us. When you get someone like that you've got to cherish it, nurture it properly from youth and make sure you take full advantage of it."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • jmcilhinney on February 17, 2014, 2:15 GMT

    While certainly not the only one, no doubt Johnson is the biggest single factor in Australia's resurgence. It was predictable that Craig McDermott would talk up Johnson before this series but, based on his performance here after what he did in the Ashes, talk of his being the best bowler in the world is not really exaggeration. It still remains to be seen whether he can sustain his current level of performance long term but his improved technique makes it appear far less likely that he'll repeat some of the bad days he's had in the past. He'll also have such a well of confidence built up that getting into his head the way some, mostly fans rather than players, have done before seems ever less likely.

  • Greatest_Game on February 20, 2014, 7:57 GMT

    @ Faraz Hussain . Accusing Kallisof retiring so that he did not have to face Johnson is one of the most stupid things I have ever read. Just as Bradman could face Thompson when he was 65, Kallis would have faced Johnson just like he did the last of the great Windies, like he did the quickest Pakistanis, like he did tait or Lee.

    Kallis scored a ton after Sreesanth broke his rib in the fist innings. He came back in the 2nd innings and scored ANOTHER ton. That man was a rock, and scared of no bowler. You should rethink your insults.

  • danmcb on February 20, 2014, 7:13 GMT

    Noone knows better than Mikey. Even as an England fan, love the guy. And he is bang on, can't argue with what Mitch is doing right now. And, indeed, a tragedy about Finn. England got woken up out of Camp Mediocre, now they need to really start backing their players with genuine raw talent. Even if they are not always easiest to work with.

  • Meety on February 20, 2014, 5:52 GMT

    @Faraz Hussain - re: Bradman facing MJ. Dunno if you know, but long after Bradman retired (over 25yrs), as Chairmen of Selectors, Bradman went into the nets & faced a young Jeff Thomson circa 1975! From memory, I think he had one pad on & would of been about 65+ years old. Reports vary between whether Thommo was at full pace or not, but all agreed that Bradman played him fairly comfortably!

  • on February 19, 2014, 9:18 GMT

    As a Pakistani, all we think about bowlers who can bowl fast, and After seeing Mitchell Johnson's terrorising performance in the last 6 tests, to me he is the greatest fast bowler I have ever watched, the greatest thing happened to cricket after all this IPL and batting friendly cricket, I can sense even watching on TV, that Batsmen are terrified of getting hurt, and I think Johnson is the reason that Kallis didn't want to get hurt at the end of his career and retired before the series, though he was one the greatest, but Even Bradman had struggled against Johnson in current form

  • Happy_hamster on February 19, 2014, 3:51 GMT

    Markdal on (February 18, 2014, 11:14 GMT) I reckon you are right about Mr. Lillee, I for one thought it was ridiculous when he was ranked No.4 a few years back having only seen a few Ashes games, when on his day he is clearly No.1. My hope , and it is a mere hope, is Finn sorts his head/action out because he could be a similar destructive force and cricket needs genuine fast bowlers and I would prefer it if some of them played for England.

  • Robster1 on February 19, 2014, 1:04 GMT

    A complete pleasure to at last see some serious fast bowling after years of repetitive batsman dominated games. Even though I'm not an Aussie, keep going Johnson. It's fascinating to see who can really handle pace (de Villiers) and the many in England and SA who cannot. So revealing about a batsman's true mind.

  • Vikum72 on February 18, 2014, 23:37 GMT

    Holding is always quick to praise players from Australia and England.

  • camcove on February 18, 2014, 11:52 GMT

    @Simoc and those who have since replied - Thommo hurt his shoulder in a collision with Alan Turner in the field against Pakistan. When his speed was measured a year or two before that (and to the naked eye he seemed to be faster against Pakistan than he had ever been before), it was by dividing distance by time. The speed was 100mph, or 160kph. That was the average speed over the whole length of the pitch, not the out of the hand radar that we see now. Guesstimate as to out of the hand? 170kph plus. I think Michael Holding summed it up on SA TV in this last Test, when discussing with Shaun Pollock and others. There could not conceivably ever have been anyone else as quick as Thommo was before the injury. Interestingly, the panel was asked to name the 4 quicks they would have in their side from bowlers they had seen. (Holding was omitted for modesty reasons). They all had Lillee and Thommo in their 4.

  • Markdal on February 18, 2014, 11:14 GMT

    Mikey's got it right. Johnson has done little bowling in his career, compared to a lot of others. I remember umpiring a Queensland City-Country fixture back in 2002, and Johnson played - as a batsman, because he was injured even back then! I think it's amazing what he's doing, given that bowlers who were supposed to faster than he in the same timeframe (Akhtar, Lee, Tait etc) didn't have the same intimidation factor about them, at least on a consistent basis. Dennis Lillee may have copped some flak for his "once in a generation bowler" quote about Johnson (and I'm one of the knockers), but I reckon Dennis is sitting back with a wry smile on his face now.

  • jmcilhinney on February 17, 2014, 2:15 GMT

    While certainly not the only one, no doubt Johnson is the biggest single factor in Australia's resurgence. It was predictable that Craig McDermott would talk up Johnson before this series but, based on his performance here after what he did in the Ashes, talk of his being the best bowler in the world is not really exaggeration. It still remains to be seen whether he can sustain his current level of performance long term but his improved technique makes it appear far less likely that he'll repeat some of the bad days he's had in the past. He'll also have such a well of confidence built up that getting into his head the way some, mostly fans rather than players, have done before seems ever less likely.

  • Greatest_Game on February 20, 2014, 7:57 GMT

    @ Faraz Hussain . Accusing Kallisof retiring so that he did not have to face Johnson is one of the most stupid things I have ever read. Just as Bradman could face Thompson when he was 65, Kallis would have faced Johnson just like he did the last of the great Windies, like he did the quickest Pakistanis, like he did tait or Lee.

    Kallis scored a ton after Sreesanth broke his rib in the fist innings. He came back in the 2nd innings and scored ANOTHER ton. That man was a rock, and scared of no bowler. You should rethink your insults.

  • danmcb on February 20, 2014, 7:13 GMT

    Noone knows better than Mikey. Even as an England fan, love the guy. And he is bang on, can't argue with what Mitch is doing right now. And, indeed, a tragedy about Finn. England got woken up out of Camp Mediocre, now they need to really start backing their players with genuine raw talent. Even if they are not always easiest to work with.

  • Meety on February 20, 2014, 5:52 GMT

    @Faraz Hussain - re: Bradman facing MJ. Dunno if you know, but long after Bradman retired (over 25yrs), as Chairmen of Selectors, Bradman went into the nets & faced a young Jeff Thomson circa 1975! From memory, I think he had one pad on & would of been about 65+ years old. Reports vary between whether Thommo was at full pace or not, but all agreed that Bradman played him fairly comfortably!

  • on February 19, 2014, 9:18 GMT

    As a Pakistani, all we think about bowlers who can bowl fast, and After seeing Mitchell Johnson's terrorising performance in the last 6 tests, to me he is the greatest fast bowler I have ever watched, the greatest thing happened to cricket after all this IPL and batting friendly cricket, I can sense even watching on TV, that Batsmen are terrified of getting hurt, and I think Johnson is the reason that Kallis didn't want to get hurt at the end of his career and retired before the series, though he was one the greatest, but Even Bradman had struggled against Johnson in current form

  • Happy_hamster on February 19, 2014, 3:51 GMT

    Markdal on (February 18, 2014, 11:14 GMT) I reckon you are right about Mr. Lillee, I for one thought it was ridiculous when he was ranked No.4 a few years back having only seen a few Ashes games, when on his day he is clearly No.1. My hope , and it is a mere hope, is Finn sorts his head/action out because he could be a similar destructive force and cricket needs genuine fast bowlers and I would prefer it if some of them played for England.

  • Robster1 on February 19, 2014, 1:04 GMT

    A complete pleasure to at last see some serious fast bowling after years of repetitive batsman dominated games. Even though I'm not an Aussie, keep going Johnson. It's fascinating to see who can really handle pace (de Villiers) and the many in England and SA who cannot. So revealing about a batsman's true mind.

  • Vikum72 on February 18, 2014, 23:37 GMT

    Holding is always quick to praise players from Australia and England.

  • camcove on February 18, 2014, 11:52 GMT

    @Simoc and those who have since replied - Thommo hurt his shoulder in a collision with Alan Turner in the field against Pakistan. When his speed was measured a year or two before that (and to the naked eye he seemed to be faster against Pakistan than he had ever been before), it was by dividing distance by time. The speed was 100mph, or 160kph. That was the average speed over the whole length of the pitch, not the out of the hand radar that we see now. Guesstimate as to out of the hand? 170kph plus. I think Michael Holding summed it up on SA TV in this last Test, when discussing with Shaun Pollock and others. There could not conceivably ever have been anyone else as quick as Thommo was before the injury. Interestingly, the panel was asked to name the 4 quicks they would have in their side from bowlers they had seen. (Holding was omitted for modesty reasons). They all had Lillee and Thommo in their 4.

  • Markdal on February 18, 2014, 11:14 GMT

    Mikey's got it right. Johnson has done little bowling in his career, compared to a lot of others. I remember umpiring a Queensland City-Country fixture back in 2002, and Johnson played - as a batsman, because he was injured even back then! I think it's amazing what he's doing, given that bowlers who were supposed to faster than he in the same timeframe (Akhtar, Lee, Tait etc) didn't have the same intimidation factor about them, at least on a consistent basis. Dennis Lillee may have copped some flak for his "once in a generation bowler" quote about Johnson (and I'm one of the knockers), but I reckon Dennis is sitting back with a wry smile on his face now.

  • ygkd on February 18, 2014, 10:48 GMT

    The idea proposed by Steve48 merits more thought. Will batsmen have to revert to lighter bats and better footwork in the face of a pantheon of Mitch-like bowling? I doubt it. Mitch is one bowler and as an individual he hasn't always got it right himself. He's hardly someone easily copied and Australian batsmen are particularly prone, in general, to the modern front-foot heavy-bat stiffer-armed style that Steve48 talks about. Therefore, I'd say that facing Mitch in the nets or in domestic cricket hasn't made much obvious difference so far and is unlikely to in the future. Added to that, he's 32 years old. He's not going to be around the Test world for much longer. The modern batting style, by contrast, is here to stay. Limited overs cricket is the perfect breeding ground for it and all Oz international players come through the same limited overs factory in the youth system. That doesn't allow for much diversity, whatever Johnson does. If England ever finds a MJ, Australia's in trouble.

  • VivGilchrist on February 18, 2014, 10:43 GMT

    What I find lame is the need people have to put down the supreme effort and skill of a top-class player at his peak. People, this is what makes Test cricket exciting! Do you not understand? If MJ was just another run of the mill medium pacer we would not all be glued to our TV screens. If you cannot respect what Johnson is bringing to Test cricket, then why even bother watching?

  • Jean_de_Bruuner on February 18, 2014, 10:09 GMT

    @robbo222 - have to agree with Thegimp, once the ball is released from the hand it is subject to the same deceleration regardless of bowler - gravitational pull at 9.8m2 and wind resistance, based on the size of ball, air pressure (and wind speed). Johnson simply bowls above 90mph more consistently and with more aggressive direction than any other bowler of recent years, plus he has the skiddy factor that Thegimp mentions (as did Malcolm Marshall). When Dale Steyn has bowled in a similar manner at consistently high speeds, he has achieved similar results. There is no such thing as a 'heavy ball' unless he swaps balls for a...heavier ball...or he has somehow circumvented the laws of physics by, say, selling his soul to the devil.

  • TPIGOLD on February 18, 2014, 8:43 GMT

    Michael Holding, SO BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN. I recall fast bowlers when I was in my late teens, no-one looked after them properly, so the natural progression was have a few great games, then go without a wicket and get thrown on the 'has been pile'. Next step in the journey was to stack on 60kgs and end life in the Pub 'remembering' the good ole days....

  • itsthewayuplay on February 18, 2014, 7:53 GMT

    I agree with MH general point that cricket has become a batsman's game. With 3 different formats now and T20 all about boundaries an over-boundaries and ODIs to a lessor extent, cricket boards should look at restoring the balance between bat and ball as the priority for test matches and not revenue protection i.e. flat or flattish pitches to ensure games last 5 days.

  • Kizman on February 18, 2014, 5:11 GMT

    You could argue that Akhtar in 2002 was more fearsome and brutal than Johnson (clocked 160k a couple of times), but as of right now nobody (except maybe Steyn when fit) is competing with Mitch at the moment.

  • dunger.bob on February 18, 2014, 4:56 GMT

    @ SPotnis : The old World Series Cricket theme song, C'mon Aussie, had a line in it that went something like this. " And then there's Sunil Gavaskar, He's got the most Tests runs by far, We're gonna have to get him ..." and I can't remember the next bit, but it summed up the respect he had. I also remember Rick McCosker coming out to bat in the Centenary Test looking like a mummy. His jaw was broken in the first innings so he wrapped towels or something around his head, presumably to stop it flapping about too much. .. Can you imagine that happening these days. .. Not me. The world was a very different place in the 70's.

  • Thegimp on February 18, 2014, 4:35 GMT

    Cont.......Robbo, the ball can't "slow down at a slower rate" once it has left the hand it is subject to the same laws of physics as any other.

  • Thegimp on February 18, 2014, 4:30 GMT

    @robbo222.....Hate to disagree mate but a 5.75 ounce ball leaving one persons hand at 150km/h has the same force as one leaving another persons hand no matter how strong of fit each of them are. The "Hard Ball' theory is a bit of a myth and has more to do with steepness of bounce and whether one skids off the pitch or hits the pitch hard thus losing momentum. Mitch's slingy action makes the ball skid and therefore loses less momentum than say Morkel who hits the deck a little harder from higher. Still, it is unproven.

  • JJJake on February 18, 2014, 2:51 GMT

    ATM I feel sorry for Cummins, Starc , Bird and Patterson. All these genuinely fast bowlers aren't going to get a crack at SA, India or England for quite some time now. They'll be chopping at the bit to get amongst those batting line ups that don't like facing fast bowling.

  • on February 18, 2014, 2:30 GMT

    I been watching cricket since last 2 decade but I never seen bowling like this before. The way MJ bowled in ashes and now in SA is phenomenal. But all of this I like his bowling action. He got one of the best bowling action. Keep it up MJ. God bless you. Indian cricket fan.

  • taztigers on February 18, 2014, 2:26 GMT

    A couple of days after the first test against S.Africa I was listening to the news & I heard a most unusual comment in the sports section, G.Smith said although Johnson bowled alright? he really only knocked over the tail enders. Well with match figures of 12 for he must have hit more than them & does Smith only think of himself as a tail ender?

  • shetto on February 18, 2014, 0:38 GMT

    Something for Michael Holding to think about - where has the aggro gone from the West Indies bowling?. You certainly have the pace with bowlers like Roach and Best. Someone needs to work with them and get them in the frame of mind to intimidate and scare batsmen. The West Indies had great batsmen - but it was really their fast bowling and intimidation that set them apart from other countries. They need to follow Australia's lead and regain that reputation of fast intimidating bowling to become one of the worlds best again.

  • TomPow on February 18, 2014, 0:09 GMT

    Its great to see real fast bowling from Johnson. He has been bowling at a fercoity not seen since the days of Ambrose holding Lillee and Thomas. Its great to watch and for a minor level paceman like myself, long overdue. I just wish a few more current batsmen could stand up to this quality of bowling.

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on February 17, 2014, 21:20 GMT

    @jonesy2 I see Bird as more of a replacement for Harris when his knee becomes too much of a burden for him. Cummins on the other hand... I really hope that he's willing to do the hard yards in his conditioning over the next few years to get up to scratch physically for a long test summer and the selectors go about using him the right way so he won't be constantly injured. That kid has some proper potential.

  • Meety on February 17, 2014, 21:18 GMT

    @Srilanka-rules on (February 17, 2014, 2:34 GMT) - generally my experience was that SL fans were amongst the fairest when posting on here. You have lowered the bar. It may be worth remembering that SL have the best pitches for pace bowling in Asia - they are not rank turners & posess a bit of lateral movement & some uneven bounce at some Test venues. MJ in this form will menace any team anywhere in the world. Bear in my mind England fans said the same stuff u did, then Saffa fans said the same stuff u did & it hasn't worked well for them has it? I am a massive Sanga fan & respect Jayawerdene, don't tarnish their reputation by talking crud!

  • crockit on February 17, 2014, 21:11 GMT

    Don't know what evidence Robbo222 has that Johnson bowls a heavy ball compared to others or whether this is simply an impression. I do agree that pace combined with the slingy action is significant - harder to pick up the ball - allowing bowler to vary length from good to short without much risk of punishment except from the best of batters. The left arm angle accentuates the unusualness of the experience and puts the body more in harm's way.

  • Meety on February 17, 2014, 21:10 GMT

    @jb633 on (February 17, 2014, 15:18 GMT) - "bog average" without MJ? (Sure you aren't hammond?) - anyways lets look at that statement hey? We would be bog average with Ryan Harris who against England took 22 wickets at a sub 20 average & a S/Rate of around 45!!!!!!!!! We would be bog average when against England Siddle (who has career stats superior to Anderson & Broad), took 16 wickets @ 24!!!!! We would be bog average when against England Lyon took 19 wickets @ 29 with a S/R of 56 (better than Swanns career S/R)!!!!! We would be bog average when against England 6 of our top 7 out scored Englands best run getter (KP)!!!!!!! We would be bog average when against England our Keeper & fieldsmen didn't drop catches or sulk around the field!!!!!! Yep that was a LAME comment jb633 - MJ was just the cream on the top! BTW - as a team Oz have improved since the Ashes!

  • RohanMarkJay on February 17, 2014, 20:51 GMT

    Agree with Jones2, Aus would have trashed England last ashes anyways. It was Eng that was bog average. It seems some Eng fans can't come to terms with their team's pathetic performance in Oz. Their attitude was a disgrace to the game. Aus were superb in Oz a little humility and credit to Australia for playing great cricket down there wouldn't go amiss. That is what genuine cricket fans do unlike one eyed Eng supporters.

  • SPotnis on February 17, 2014, 19:16 GMT

    Not many cricket pundits will agree with me even though they know in their heart, why cricketers like Sunil Gavaskar, Sir Viv Richards are the all time greats when compared with those of today's. They had the courage to stand upto the intimidating world class fast bowling and dominate in their own ways. As Imran Khan, who himself was one of the greats, rightly said " The only batsman who intimidates me is Sir Viv Richards". And everyone knows, Gavaskar was equally fearless and scored tons of run against the best bowling. No one has a better record the West Indies of 1970s and 80s than Sunil Manohar Gavaskar. All those runs scored by Viv and Sunil were without a helmet :) and all those full body protection. If we were to consider the class of bowling in those days v/s class of bowling today, I am sure pundits will agree that those class bowler (DK Lillee, Thomson, Marshall, Holding, Roberts) will never be born again.

  • on February 17, 2014, 19:02 GMT

    Hey guys! Let us enjoy Mitch's bowling as he is in great form and is recreating the magic of fast and intimidating(to say the least) bowling... As for the question of who is best of them all it is better to say that all teams and players have their time... Even Indian batsmen have many times done well in fast bowling conditions in Aus/Eng/SA/NZ and vice versa... Enjoy the man of the moment and his exploits which are making even people in India to watch live telecast of Australian matches as I am sure cricket lovers across the nations would have done to watch sachin, dravid and other Indian batting legends play... Kudos to MJ for fantastic bowling and a hell of an entertainment....

  • robbo222 on February 17, 2014, 18:42 GMT

    Don't get bogged down by the 'headline' measurement of speed ( ie the ball speed is measured at its fastest point - immediately as the ball leaves the hand ). Johnson is bowling very quickly (mostly 145-150 k's) but there are others who can match that initial speed gun reading such as Steyn and Morkel. The reason Johnson is in effect so fast is his current supreme fitness and strength. He is bowling an exceptionally 'heavy ball' ie the ball slows down at a slower rate than virtually any other bowler and the braking effect of the pitch is less on the deliveries of this very strong athlete. During the Ashes series Harris and Broad occasionally touched 91/92mph but they looked at least a yard slower than a delivery from Johnson of say 88mph. Johnson is bowling 92/93 and very heavy, the overall effect is exceptional pace. Add to that the left arm angle and slightly slingy action and this man is currently lethal. Not sure how long he can keep this up but it is thrilling to watch.

  • santoshjohnsamuel on February 17, 2014, 17:33 GMT

    Holding knows what he's talking about -- about time the cricket world listens. A real fast bowler versus a batsman willing to take him on -- or at least not scared -- and we've got a contest. KP versus Steyn was the last we saw; De Villers versus Johnson is next. The next two Tests will show some spine; or the lack of it.

  • malepas on February 17, 2014, 17:22 GMT

    Amazing to see how quickly Western cricket writers/ex players start to glorify their players as one of the best ever,,,I think there was somebody with the name of Shoib Akhtar not long ago, he was arguably the fastest bowler of all time, who was consistently bowling over 155kph and terrorising the best batters around the world, Mitch is very good, nothing taking away from him but is he as good in Asian conditions?? time will tell,,I would want to see him bowl in UAE this winter against PAK( not the best batting lineup in world) but UAE is place where he will need more then just pace, but currently he is the fastest and has become the most feared bowler,,well done.

  • gladiatorgannicus on February 17, 2014, 17:15 GMT

    lucky Australia,need not face Johnson

  • jonesy2 on February 17, 2014, 16:17 GMT

    jb633- what a load of absolute rubbish. Australia would've smashed England in the same fashion without Johnson, do you forget that james pattinson is a top 5 bowler in the world after MJ, steyn and harris? Mitchell starc will be as well then you add in bird and cummins.

  • jb633 on February 17, 2014, 15:18 GMT

    @Mitty2, yeah but what was the score in England and what was the score in the Aus series. Aus need MJ, there is nothing wrong with that, but without him Aus would be bog average again. The fact is they have him and should enjoy his success, it is phenomenal.

  • steve48 on February 17, 2014, 15:01 GMT

    All sports go in cycles of conventional wisdom. Barcelona's methods seen as ultimate football eventually not just challenged but decimated by a different style by Bayern Munich. So it is with cricket, all the known reasons why it had become a batsman's game resulted in a dearth of aggressive quick bowling, resulting in forward presses and front foot based techniques. So along comes Mitch, an ideal physical specimen, with the slightly slingy action perfect to attack not just the head, but ribs upwards. Showed us the potential, lost his way (cos of slingy action?), now mature, grooved, and so able to rewrite conventional wisdom on the importance of pace and aggression. Soon more bowlers will follow suit and batsmen will have to revert to ' back and across ', lighter bats , learning to duck, fend and ride the ball. Question is, how will this affect limited overs 'entertainment'? Will governing bodies get together and limit bowling bouncing above waist height!? If more Mitches turn up...?

  • RJHB on February 17, 2014, 12:43 GMT

    Lots of SLfans talking big, not sure why tho! They seem to rarely play test cricket, even more rarely overseas against proper cricketing nations, not Zimb or Bang! And since when could they handle extreme pace and physical intimidation?? And lastly, Australia have defeated SL in their last two meetings, home and away! I mean, seriously, what more do you have to do to get respect?! BTW, stop confusing one day cricket with test cricket. Being good in one doesn't make you worth a jot in the other!

  • Mitty2 on February 17, 2014, 11:53 GMT

    @David Buttle, and yet he still lost over 10km/h after his reconstruction!

    And anyone who says we wouldn't be winning without MJ, well how do you know if we've been so dominant that the games have been a no contest regardless? How would other teams fare without their best players? SA without Steyn or AbDV and England without KP (oh lol), then Broad (all their non-KP batters are equally crap) - would be carnage. Ridiculous logic. Anyway, as the country with the best fast bowling depth in the world (closely followed by SA with Abott, De Lange, Hendricks), the games would certainly be closer, but by no means would we be losing more games than we would be winning. Siddle, Lyon and Harris are a brilliant trio - who all can keep it tight and remain attacking. Their wickets are being taken by MJ ;). Replace MJ with one of Cummings, Patto, Bird, Starc and the attack is still very, very good. Regardless - who cares! - with MJ bowling like this we simply can't lose.

  • Mitty2 on February 17, 2014, 11:45 GMT

    Mitchell Johnson is freakishly fit and freakishly durable. Opposition fans, I wouldn't be hoping for any relenting from him any time soon. This is quite simply, one of the most amazing turnarounds ever in the history of cricket. I can't remember the last time a bowler had an expectation to take a wicket every ball or over as MJ has the last 6 tests... It's been phenomenal. Once in a generation type bowler - DK completely correct. To reduce your bowling average to 32 after 60 odd tests to 27 in just six tests is mind boggling. I've run out of patriotic praise for MJ over the last three months, but he deserves every second of it. His bowling in this period will stick in my mind as much as any other cricketing occurrence. I'm just glad I got to see him live at the G on day 1,2,3 for some lovely retelling; my one regret is that I wasn't at Adelaide for his 7/40... That would've been phenomenal! Anyway, he's been through a lot so it's heartwarming to see him dominate now.

  • Wasim_Wasamadroota on February 17, 2014, 11:42 GMT

    Bats 3 times thicker than they used to be, pitches more benign, helmets, arm, chest and thigh guards, limit on bouncers - it certainly has become a batsmans game. Great to see MJ put the fear back into batting. The modern batsman instinctively plays forward without fear - until now. Bring on the next test.

  • on February 17, 2014, 10:34 GMT

    I probably go back a little further than most posters here and can also remember Hall and Griffith- past their peak when I saw them- but also a pretty mean WI bowler more recently in Andy Roberts. The batsmen then were not protected by the helmets and body armour more readily available now. I would have to agree that the average of today's batsmen are bloated. And, of course, the West Indies batsmen stood out a lot as they never had to face their own bowlers in Tests.

  • Not_Another_Keybored_Expert on February 17, 2014, 10:26 GMT

    @Ashik I don't understand the comment "we need to support bowlers like Johnson even if they are going to do some bodyline bowling" why is it that some people have a problem with the short pitched balls Johnson bowls but the Windies of the 70's and 80's are celebrated for it? I read comments on here during the ashes that Johnson was basically cheating using the "bodyline theory" , there are major differences between what Johnson does and "Bodyline" namely the fielding restrictions (the full umbrella field is no longer allowed) and the limit of head high balls an over.

  • Drew2 on February 17, 2014, 10:23 GMT

    @Simoc if you are suggesting that Marshall and co were faster than Jeff Thomson, then I don't think that you saw Thommo before the late 70s. He was clearly the fasted of all of them, and the speed guns that measured him were accurate, but measured speed over a longer distance. ie they understated his real speed compared to today's speed guns. I didn't see anyone else half volley the sight board with a bouncer. Check your video history.

  • Drew2 on February 17, 2014, 10:22 GMT

    @Simoc if you are suggesting that Marshall and co were faster than Jeff Thomson, then I don't think that you saw Thommo before the late 70s. He was clearly the fasted of all of them, and the speed guns that measured him were accurate, but measured speed over a longer distance. ie they understated his real speed compared to today's speed guns. I didn't see anyone else half volley the sight board with a bouncer. Check your video history.

  • on February 17, 2014, 10:11 GMT

    I want more of Johnson vs ABD , Johnson vs Kohli , Johnson vs Sanga , Johnson vs Pujara in australia....I'm sure they can handle....but the contest will be mouth watering....

  • on February 17, 2014, 9:47 GMT

    Just had a look at the card from OT 1976: how on earth did Gordon Greenidge manage to make a century in each innings on that pitch? England were obviously seriously outgunned (by Roberts, Holding and Daniel, who would outgun most), and didn't make 200 between the 2 innings. Turning to the present day, Holding is clearly right about Johnson (it's quite unusual to find a great player who can speak with such clarity and authority on the game). Not sure I'd agree with Smudgeon about Holding being the best of the great West Indian bowlers: best to watch, yes, but Marshal (for me the best)l, Garner (probably the most underrated) and Ambrose all had better averages. However, this is a "which is your favourite Dom Perignon?" question.

  • on February 17, 2014, 9:34 GMT

    It is high time genuine fast bowlers get the due. It is not easy to keep bowling at 150 and above without getting injured. Fast bowling is the toughest job in cricket. Crowds will always cheer when they see a bowler hit 150 km/h mark. Earlier we had Brett Lee and Akthar and the fans were thrilled to see them bowl and break the stumps. With rules always favoring batsmen these days, we need to support bowlers like Johnson even if they are going to do some bodyline bowling.

  • AnthonyMD on February 17, 2014, 9:32 GMT

    Growing up in the 70's and eighties and watching the West Indies in their prime, I cannot praise the likes of Sunil Gavaskar and Allan Border enough. These blokes averaged 50 plus throughout their careers and faced the likes of what Johnson is bowling, day in day out, all day not just from one end in short spells but consistently from both ends for 6 hours a day.

  • Simoc on February 17, 2014, 9:31 GMT

    It's called intimidation which has worked in every team sport I have played. Johnson is harder to face because of the sling type action which I think is a nightmare for any batsman. Jeff Thomson was over the top and easier to pick a trifle, at the speed; and the speed was exaggerated for him. Having watched him in the pre helmet era he wasn't close to Marshall, Ambrose, Holding. But never the less great on his day. Holding had the best action the game has seen. The difference now is that batsmen are not used to being intimidated and Johnson is cashing in.

  • HairyKiore on February 17, 2014, 9:23 GMT

    Strange ..I rang the NZ radio sports station and mentioned Johnson for the ashes simply because of his bowling in the IPL...I was basicly ridiculed (better not mention a name??) Around this time Starc and Pattinson were the names being mentioned for England but both got injured so everything sort of fell into place for Johnson and Australia..In retrospect I wonder what would have happened with Starc and Pattinson being fit and uninured??

  • riaz.m on February 17, 2014, 9:04 GMT

    Of course how could anyone forget Border and his heroics!! and Greg Chappell, Every test batsman in the last 15 years needs to shave 10 runs per innings from their average if they want a proper comparison with the greats I mentioned before.

  • Basingrad on February 17, 2014, 8:58 GMT

    I think it is a bit simplistic to say that it is just about pace. Mitch is definitely not quicker than Brett Lee was at his peak and I don't think he is actually any more accurate or hostile on the face of it. Yet Lee was not especially successful other than on the fastest of decks. The difference with Mitch is that his slightly slingy action conceals the ball; you knew what was coming with Lee as you could see the ball all the way through the action. I think batsmen are picking Mitch up later and that is where they are struggling. Different actions at exactly the same pace can feel very different as a batsman

  • on February 17, 2014, 8:51 GMT

    To all those who say it is impossible to maintain express pace for an entire career, i have two words for you. Jeff Thomson who was still above 150 kmh after his shoulder reconstruction.

  • riaz.m on February 17, 2014, 8:30 GMT

    Thank you Mr holding for speaking the truth,as usual. Most modern day test batsman are raised on perfect batting strips against medium fast bowlers and feasting on them. So much so that a journey man like Misbah is averaging nearly 50. These so called batting greats like Hayden and KP for example would be meat and drink to fast men from the 70s and 80s. Front foot bully's who would have their faces re-arranged by 3 or 4 really fast bowlers. This puts the runs scored by the likes of Gavaskar, Vengsarkar, Amarnath, Miandad, Wasim Raja, Asif Iqbal, Gower, Robin Smith, Lamb and Crowe on a different planet.

  • Int.Curator on February 17, 2014, 8:29 GMT

    M Johnson bowling success has some contributing factors that M Holding has overlooked. Example taken from last test.

    Superior tactical captaincy: Declaration

    Superior field placements: Doolan, Smith field placements

    Superior fielders: Doolan, Smith catches

    Superior team bowling: 4 different types of bowlers +Warner

    Bowling plans with strategy:hitting zones identified

    Pin point accuracy: batsmen vulnerability identified and targeted

    Short bowling spells: 3-4 over spells

    Then add M Johnson at 150km

    Team bowling / fielding complete.

  • Vishnu27 on February 17, 2014, 8:20 GMT

    Srilanka-rules: as others have said; MJ broke Sangakkara's hand last time here. Not to mention hospitalising two others in the same game. That's what you call getting owned. SL were smashed here last time, literally. It seems I should also remind you of previous Australian tours to SL, as well. SL has a SOLITARY test win against Australia in test match cricket! That one win came at home came all the way back in '99 (when you won a 3 match series 1-0). Every other SL v Australia series has been won by Australia (4 out of 5 in SL, & 6 out of 6 in Australia). There's your food for thought

  • AlSmug on February 17, 2014, 8:15 GMT

    when a side gets beaten with day to spare on there om soil , it is fair to say , they are not the superior side . Actions speaks louder than words Australia are the current best test team in the world, no more else to be said or debated thats just fact

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on February 17, 2014, 8:13 GMT

    @sachin_vvsfan Good show, as much as I know not all Indian fans aren't completely clueless it's still nice to see one around these parts. That said I do think India have some decent pacers around, proper pace men above 140, some well above, but they stick with the ZAK/Shami medium pace combo. If you don't give them any exposure how are they supposed to get better? It's rather unfortunate.

  • smudgeon on February 17, 2014, 8:10 GMT

    If this is how batsmen cope with Mitchell Johnson...just imagine FOUR bowlers in your team capable of those sorts of sustained speeds, with differing angles, trajectory, bounce, and aggression...can't imagine many teams of today doing particularly well against the West Indies of the 70s and 80s, huh? I can't imagine higher praise that Johnson can receive than from (to me) the pick of those West Indies bowlers.

  • Vijay_P_S on February 17, 2014, 8:06 GMT

    Me thinks the cricket bowling action (as opposed to pitching in baseball), by the very nature of it, puts a lot of stress on the fast bowlers. Add to that the amount of cricket played these days with non-existent recovery period. It is impossible to sustain 150 kph throughout one's career.

  • nickvegas on February 17, 2014, 8:05 GMT

    Amusing that everyone is trying to explain why Johnson and Australia have come good so suddenly. I don't think even Johnson and the Australians know

  • arunsubbu on February 17, 2014, 8:04 GMT

    @sidharrtha87 agree with him on this unless selectors and dhoni flush out the current crop of no gooders like jadeja,ashwin and ishant..just saw today how mcullum smashed ishant and co..if they can do it imagine what the poms and aussies can do

  • Chris_P on February 17, 2014, 8:01 GMT

    @Srilanka-rules. You do recall who broke Sanga's hand in the second test in Melbourne, don't you? And unless I am in Bizarro world, we did manage to beat Sri Lanka last time we toured there with a very average side, did we not? And if I recall, also managed to beat them 3-0 the time before over there? This selective memory disease, it is spreading!

  • sachin_vvsfan on February 17, 2014, 7:46 GMT

    @disco_bob No Indian fans do realize the fast bowlers importance. We don't even need Mitch .A half fit Harris or Siddle in the Indian team would make the team a great side

  • on February 17, 2014, 7:38 GMT

    Johnson was a below average bowler, but the way captains gave him confidence and showed their trust he is totally a changed bowler now. Pace is not only the face which can scared the batsmen but use of short deliveries well on the body of batsman is X-factor. People talk about the bowlers in past with furious pace But forget to mention the big name of Shoaib Akhtar, His magic spells in Test and ODI's are unforgettable. He proved himself against all the biased media spokesmen and cricketers. Even team like Australia called him Choler for his short deliveries. You can imagine how scared most of batsmen were in his peek time.

  • dunger.bob on February 17, 2014, 7:35 GMT

    49 wickets is a career for some players. Johnson has bagged that many in the last 6 Tests. At that rate he can expect about 100 wickets per year with the curent schedule. If he can keep this up for 3 years he'll end up with more wickets than McGrath. .. I think the question 'how long can he keep this up' is the thing everyone wants to know. .. At the moment he's like an axe murderer running rampant around the neighbourhood so I guess it's fair enough to be interested.

    @ Selfishkar : "Ishanth Sharma has the potential to be Mitchel Johnson of India if nurtured and cherished." - Sharma started hitting his straps towards the back end of the ODI's in NZ and has been good since. Couldn't do anything about McCullum today though so his run could be over already.

    @ Srilanka-rules : "Food for thought" you say. .. I've thought about it and nah, he'll blow a hole straight through your batting. .. I give them 40 overs, tops. .. Sanga's a class act though, he'll be 40 n.o in a total of 110.

  • venkatesh018 on February 17, 2014, 7:28 GMT

    Mike Holding is bang on here-When you have such a gem like Mitchell Johnson in your team you unleash him, because no one knows how long it will last. He gets it spot on too about England's infamous back room staff who have turned a possible super fast bowler in Finn into a confused wreck.

  • on February 17, 2014, 7:24 GMT

    ABDV can..

  • RKCH on February 17, 2014, 7:12 GMT

    Thank you Mitch for this wonderful spectacle and giving us a glimpse of what the Lillee/Thompson era would have been like. It is not just fast bowling at its best, but also furiously intimidating. The batsmen should feel lucky to have only lost their wicket and being able to walk back to pavilion on their feet. And the fact that he has done all this without any sledging makes it so graceful. Welcome to Johnson's universe and long live test cricket.

  • siddhartha87 on February 17, 2014, 7:10 GMT

    Can't wait for India's series against England and Australia. India will be annihilated by Anderson and co's swing and later they will be demolished by pace of Harris and co.I predict India will be 5th or 6th in test rankings by this time in next year

  • on February 17, 2014, 7:03 GMT

    it's just awesome to see Johnson with great pace and enormous bounce, he showed the clear difference between styen and him

  • Sandasiri_Asitha on February 17, 2014, 6:59 GMT

    No-one is comfortable against consistent 150kmph deliveries. With MJ's current form I doubt any batsmen could able to handle him in fast tracks. May be B. MacCullum :P

  • on February 17, 2014, 6:54 GMT

    Johnson has revived his carrear through IPL...he is an another best example after Shane Watson

  • on February 17, 2014, 6:49 GMT

    It is the closest to the remembrances of holding ,garner & company not to forget the plight of batsmen who faced them.ONE CAN NOW FULLY understand why gavaskar & amaranth are incomparable to present crop

  • mike_b on February 17, 2014, 6:21 GMT

    Wow, some of the posters from SL (such as @SriLanka-rules) seem to have a one-eyed view of their abilities against Australia.I've just been looking through the Archives section & it says that SL have won just 1 Test match ever against Aust. 27 Tests played, 17 wins to Aust, and 8 draws.SL have won just 1 series against Aust which was in 1999. The series was 1-0 to SL in SL.That was the test where S.Waugh & Gillespie collided in the field & neither was able to bat or bowl in the second innings. Aust effectively played with 9 men after day 2. I think you should have a little more respect for the capabilities of the Saffers & how well MJ is bowling. Last time the Saffers toured Aust they beat us 1-0, a month later a barely competitive SL were in Aust and lost 3-0 with MJ breaking Sanga's fingers in the 2nd Test. Sanga is a fantastic bastman but you'd need a lot more than him & a big improvement on your past record to be competitive against Aust at the moment, especially in Australia.

  • hotcric01 on February 17, 2014, 6:13 GMT

    @sri Lankan rules,@SLisBestinEarth,yes most of asian pitches don't assist much MJ's bowling.But given the current form he is in,he would be successful anywhere in the world,against any world class batting line up.Including sanga any world class batsman would not be comfortable to face his fast,accurate short stuff aiming the body.Johnson caused injuries to some SL batsmen including sanga,when they last time toured Australia. Sanga's hobart inning was fantastic. But that Hobart pitch was very much different from current one,it was clearly a slower pitch.Johnson was early in his carrier at that time.How do you forget Johnson's 6 wickets against SL in hambanthota,in an ODI.His record in indian flat piches are also decent. You have to accept Johnson is the best test bowler on earth at the moment.

  • jonesy2 on February 17, 2014, 6:11 GMT

    in my head I read all the quotes in mike holdings voice. bring on the blossoming careers of Mitchell starc, james pattinson and pat cummiins!

  • MaruthuDelft on February 17, 2014, 6:04 GMT

    Sri lanka best? I thought only India fans dumb. Sri Lankans look worse! Sri Lanka is not able to use even its water resources properly to produce hydro-electric power!

  • Meety on February 17, 2014, 5:59 GMT

    @mike_b on (February 17, 2014, 1:13 GMT) - much is said of Finn, although (IMO) a lot is misguided. Yes he has the ability to bowl fast - but he is very erratic & has a terrible run up that I am amazed that really hasn't been sorted in 3 yrs (should of been done prior to being an international). The other factor when viewing Finn's "impressive" S/Rate - is that about 40% of his victims were Bangladesh batsmen. Can you imagine what MJ would do to batsmen who grow up on sub-continental pitches, IF they were to play him in form at the Gabba? Finn has (IMO) a great release of the ball & that is a good start & he is young, but he has been mismanaged for a long long time. Maybe the ECB should spend large wads of cash & send Finn to Lillee for personal one on one tutoring. Whilst I think England need a Finn-type of bowler during the Ashes, it has been said that Finn had the bowling yips on tour & was basically incapable of landing anything on a decent line or length.

  • 1978_zaheer on February 17, 2014, 5:56 GMT

    @sl is best in earth- india is a flat track bully? Really? Your colombo wickets are the most flattest and dead wickets on which sangakkara,the minnow basher plays half of his tests and inflates his average! And by the way have sri lanka ever beaten india in india in a test or odi series??? Could you give the answer?

  • Selfishkar on February 17, 2014, 5:53 GMT

    Ishanth Sharma has the potential to be Mitchel Johnson of India if nurtured and cherished.

  • on February 17, 2014, 5:52 GMT

    @Ragavendran -- don't forget the ball tampering. That helped too.

  • heathrf1974 on February 17, 2014, 5:26 GMT

    I agree with what Holding says. There haven't been many bowlers recently that are quick and lots of batman have little or no experience against them. If many of the fast bowlers of the mid 70s started playing today there would be carnage and many batsman would ask for a helmut big enough to cover their bodies.

  • RKCH on February 17, 2014, 5:03 GMT

    Sangakarra almost chased a 500+ target in hobart with 192, he was unlucky to be given out.

  • OneEyedAussie on February 17, 2014, 4:59 GMT

    @ Ragavendran Vijayshankar on (February 17, 2014, 4:28 GMT) : I think that says more about the greatness of the Australian team of that time than any lack of effort by the English.

  • pat_one_back on February 17, 2014, 4:58 GMT

    Hopefully these wise words from the great fast man shut down those "why don't our (current or fictional new) fast bowlers just deliver it back to Aust". One obvious reason why not is that Mitch is bowling like a peerless freak! It's taken him 10 years to refine his sling action and an extended injury lay off to build to peak fitness. Similar pace & bounce bowlers have tried and failed to replicate his impact or consistency (Morne, Broad, Finn) they aren't simply lacking the right plan and nor are there better cold blooded intimidators waiting in line for a vacancy to be advertised (Pat Cummins the one possible exception given he has already shown the ability in FC and once against SA). Just enjoy it Sportsfans!!!!

  • on February 17, 2014, 4:42 GMT

    Srilanka-rules. Machan, there's no need to draw Sangakkara into this. He is a great player. But honestly, in the form that Johnson is in, I don't think many batsmen in the world stand a chance against him. Sanga has had good days against Johnson. Remember that magnificent 192 at the Bellerive Oval? He destroyed Johnson then. But now, Johnson is operating at a different level. No batsman likes good short bowling at 150 kmph. If you unleash Johnson at the current Sri Lankan Test team, I suppose there'd be many broken bones, and that's if we're lucky. Let's just put this argument to rest.

  • SLisBestinEarth on February 17, 2014, 4:37 GMT

    I agree @Sri Lanka rules..... MJ could nowhere be as he is vs Eng /SA/NEwz.. If he tours SL Sanga,Mahi,Chandi could handle him properly... I hope even the flat track bullies (Indians) could handle him easily, if he tours INdia; becauze of nature of pitch which will not assist MJ. Srilanka always best..

  • on February 17, 2014, 4:28 GMT

    @OneEyedAussie: In Ashes 2005, the England bowlers never managed to dismiss Australia so cheaply that they could win by 281 runs. Out of the 4 quicks, 3 of them went to Australia in 2006 and we all know what happened there. Ashes in 2005 was won by England with lot of luck favouring them and McGrath getting injured.

  • Night.angel on February 17, 2014, 3:59 GMT

    I thought Indians were the only players who can't handle short balls. But even SA can't raw pace even in their den. Just imagine the plight of sub-continent players who tuned their game in dust bowls to handle the real pace in true and bouncing pitches.

    Besides, captain Smith has fractured his arm twice against Michell, so no doubt SA are scarred. And this short balls which can hurt you as Holding validates, is definitely playing in the minds of the No.1 team. Moreover, SA usually crumbles under pressure but they should have trusted their skills like AB than been bothered about Michell's aggression.

  • Insult_2_Injury on February 17, 2014, 3:54 GMT

    There have been many enjoyable positives on show in the last 6 months, since common sense started filtering back into Australian cricket. Not least of which is a mentor who has pruned the 'process' clipboarders in suits from the inner circle. Now we're seeing assistants to the best talent in Aussie uniforms, not 'high performance facilitators' telling players what they need to do to play for Australia. Our top mentor knows that unpredictability is a huge component to combat in any sport and Australia is all the better for Lehmann fostering players like Johnson. Johnson's not the quickest or most accurate going around, but as his throat ball to Amla showed, his angle, pace, rhythm and confidence are the x factor that the previous hierarchy had drilled out of the team. Aussie cricketers do not win by being meek & mild and it's great to see that team confidence back. Now grass roots needs to go back to helping kids with different actions, not change them because they 'might' get hurt.

  • xl2020 on February 17, 2014, 3:48 GMT

    hopefully the aus power that be can help develop pat Cummings along the same way he certainly has the 150km/h + speed and only 20 or 21

  • on February 17, 2014, 3:38 GMT

    @srilanka-rules...What are you talking about....? did you forget Johnson ended Sangakkara's last tour in Australia....he handled Johnson really well?? he went home with a broken hand..you need to do some research before you make ludicrous comments. Unlike teams from the subcontinent the Australian team doesn't "pad" their averages by playing test series against minnows the likes of Bangladesh & Zimbabwe. What's Sri Lanka's record like outside of Sri Lanka..? have they ever beaten Australia in a test..? Kumar is a superstar but get him on a fast track in Australia and see how good he is..Johnson May break his other hand.

  • Swan_Draught on February 17, 2014, 3:36 GMT

    @Sri Lanka rules. Sri Lanka lost to Australia last time they hosted Australia.

  • Shaggy076 on February 17, 2014, 3:24 GMT

    SriLanka-rules; Such a funny post. MJ broke Samga hand last year and the Sri Lankan fans were crying out that he was only a bully and his bowling was unfair and not a good bowler, picking on poor Sanga. Don't recall Sanga making any in that series either.

  • xtrafalgarx on February 17, 2014, 3:17 GMT

    @Fawwaz Asad: Shoaib had pace, but not enough control. Look at Tino Best, his speeds are up as high as Johnson's but he just isn't good enough with his control.

  • LoungeChairCritic on February 17, 2014, 3:12 GMT

    @sri lanka rules. When was the last time Sri Lanka beat Australia in a test series? If it has happened it happened a long time ago. Our success rate in Sri Lanka in recent years has been really good. In my opinion, Sri Lanka test side is still a work in progress. Despite the above they have a really good one day & 20/20 side who can beat anyone on their day. The Bangladeshi conditions will suit them at the next 20/20 World Cup.

  • on February 17, 2014, 2:43 GMT

    What Holding says is law. End of story.

  • bjcm12 on February 17, 2014, 2:37 GMT

    A very good analysis by Holding ! Specially about Finn.

  • Srilanka-rules on February 17, 2014, 2:34 GMT

    Mitchell Johnson has pace. No doubt he will be effective in green tracks. But his numbers are overwhelming is only because of the failure of English batsmen to tackle the pace. And everybody knows how badly SA chokes when they is any pressure. All batsmen of their batsmen were under pressure when Johnson bowled except AB. They were scarred to the hilt. Especially the captain.

    But once Johnson tours Srilanka, everything will become normal. Sanga and Co knows how to handle pressure. Sanga's achievements in Australia against Johnson validates that fact. And Chandimal already has the reputation of playing big against great bowlers in true pitches. Moreover, Srilankan pitches won't suit his style of bowling but invites scoring opportunities in plenty. Food for thought.

  • Buggsy on February 17, 2014, 2:05 GMT

    Well the good thing about Finn is he still has youth on his side. Plenty of time yet; given the right direction that is.

  • on February 17, 2014, 1:47 GMT

    How long can Mitch keep it up? That's the question on everyone's lips. As long as he is in this sort of form, Australia look like the World Champs.

  • Little_Aussie_Battler on February 17, 2014, 1:24 GMT

    If the likes of Amla, Smith and Devilliers had to deal with quality bowling like they are getting now, they would never have the stats they have now.

  • on February 17, 2014, 1:14 GMT

    Michael Holding is absolutely right,and of course he is a very good judge..As he mentioned that Finn,s career has virtually come to a standstill England have yet found another bowler in the name of Chris Jordan..Lets see how this hierachy now deal with him.We have already found out that they have destroyed the career of KP,lets now hope they dont do the same to Jordan..Pakistan won the 1992 world beacuase of Imran Khan,when he said to Wasim Akram "I want you to bowl as fast as you can,dont worry about the runs,you just bowl as fast as you can"and the rest we know is history...You have to learn to manage,not make....

  • mike_b on February 17, 2014, 1:13 GMT

    Good comments about Steve Finn.As an Aussie fan I'm perplexed about how England have managed him.Tall,very fast & with a great test match strike rate.He'll always be open to go for a few more runs but with him it's all about wickets & strike rate. Flower & his controlling staff seemed to want perfect line & length from him but delivered at 150km/h!Well if he could do that then he'd be an all time great which is a bit much to expect from somebody straight up. Given their approach England will never have a great leg spinner & it may be some time before they have a true fast bowler. A diet of medium pace & lame finger spin is the best we can expect.The Saffers won't be without another good fast bowler for too long after Steyn retires.They have the right attitude.They don't seem to be able to foster spin bowlers though. Aust has a couple of good leggies coming through.Muirhead looks like the real deal & could be the perfect compliment to MJ (with due respect to Lyon who's going along OK).

  • RJHB on February 17, 2014, 1:08 GMT

    Wise man M. Holding. Great bowler, great thinker. When he speaks, players and coaches and administrators need to listen!

  • on February 17, 2014, 1:03 GMT

    Johnson is proving from time to time .once again he collapsed the main five wickets of south Africa .where as in case of IPL , he is going to play for Punjab , hoping that he will be the reason Punjab to reach qualifiers. Go Aussie Go Punjab.

  • Barnesy4444 on February 17, 2014, 1:01 GMT

    This is why I love test cricket. The extra dimensions of the game that simply aren't there, and never will be, in 50 or 20 overs.

    Seeing medium pacers being either smashed for 6 or pushed for singles is boring.

    Seeing Johnson bolt down tracer bullets, is exciting.

  • kensohatter on February 17, 2014, 0:17 GMT

    Fantastic article. There has been a lack of bowling talent in the last 10 or so years. I always rate batsman who played in the 80s and 90s with a more favourable eye simply because they had to score runs against ambrose, walsh, akram, younis, donald etc even the all rounders back then were lethal (botham, dev, hadlee, khan). The last 10 years has only really seen the tail end of Warne, Mcgrath, Murali (none current) with the best the last few years being quite dismal... anderson and steyn maybe ajmal. Not added in this article has been the unfair rule changes (limiting bouncers, noball reviews, fielding restrictions improved bats and batting gear, doctored flat track pitches designed for 300+runs not to mention the invention of 20/20). I would love to see more Johnson type bowling similiar to the fearful west indies. batsman can either improve or have their averages damaged like those who batted during the quality bowling era.

  • xtrafalgarx on February 17, 2014, 0:05 GMT

    Mitch Johnson! #Bestintheworld

  • on February 17, 2014, 0:00 GMT

    Michael Holding makes a lot of sense here. He doesn't want to see blood on the pitch but does want to see bowlers getting more of a go. I agree with that.

    Mitchell Johnson is the premier bowler in the world today without any doubt. Very few opposing batsmen can play against him. That would also include the likes of Clarke, Haddin, Watson and especially Warner. I'm sure they're counting their lucky stars that they don't have to play against Johnson!

  • Diaz54 on February 16, 2014, 23:42 GMT

    Michael, has overlooked Shoaib Akthar, he was express in fact faster than any one....I was there at Sharjah to witness his 100 mph thunder bolts. Only for his discipline, he should have achieved more. It is not all about speed, aggression comes into it. Finn may be fast a times, but lacks aggression....take Waqqar and wasim....and of course many West Indian bowlers of that famed era! Sure it makes for exciting cricket....all I waiting for is counter attack by the batsmen....who will it be?

  • disco_bob on February 16, 2014, 23:26 GMT

    Forgot to say that this is the a most intelligent and accurate piece from Brettig, thanks for putting the truth in print.

  • disco_bob on February 16, 2014, 23:25 GMT

    I hope England are fully ashamed of (as well as humbled) for mocking and taunting MJ, because he is a revelation for world cricket, just when everyone thought that Dale Steyn was the pinnacle, EVERYONE now see what they were missing, and I am certain that even the SA supporters do not mind seeing their team pummelled by Johnson because it's so exciting to watch. Only the Indian supporters seem to not grasp it, perhaps due to having a big chip on their shoulders about fast bowlers.

  • on February 16, 2014, 23:18 GMT

    Good article. But how could the auther or MHolding forget to mention the name of Shoib Akhter who had express pace and still holds the world record of bowling the fastest ball in crickets history.He single handidly destroyed many batting line upps and that often on dead sub continent wickets.Another discriminatary attitude towards Pak cricketers.

  • thejesusofcool on February 16, 2014, 23:14 GMT

    How great to hear from Michael Holding.

    Saw him take all those 14 wickets at the Oval. On a pitch so dead, Bob Willis taking the new ball for us was like an 8-yo bowling to Dad with a tennis ball!!

    Sheer pace and class. Still a cherished memory nearly 38 years on!!

    Think some of our guys & maybe a Saffer or two will still be remembering MJ's performances 38 years on, too-wow!

  • pick_at_the_seam on February 16, 2014, 23:04 GMT

    You know you are quick and lethal when Michael Holding is waving your flag.

  • nareshgb1 on February 16, 2014, 22:46 GMT

    AND....everybody knows who to blame for the FInn mess-up - KP.

  • featurewriter on February 16, 2014, 22:39 GMT

    It's pretty impressive when you compare Johnson and Holding. Johnson has taken more wickets in less Tests at a better strike rate than one of the greatest bowlers in history. I had the pleasure of watching Holding as a teenager and he was mesmerising. Johnson is just as fearsome today as Mikey was in his day. I'm now turning on the TV just to watch Mitch bowl...anything else is just gravy.

  • OneEyedAussie on February 16, 2014, 22:38 GMT

    I have to agree. What we're seeing now with Johnson/Harris/Siddle has not been seen on this scale since Ashes 2005. I'll never forget when Harmison cut Ponting's cheek open at Lord's and not a single Englishmen went over to see how he was. England played with four quick bowlers (3 of genuine pace Flintoff, Harmison, Jones) and it was a winning strategy against an amazing but aging Australian batting line up.

  • OneEyedAussie on February 16, 2014, 22:38 GMT

    I have to agree. What we're seeing now with Johnson/Harris/Siddle has not been seen on this scale since Ashes 2005. I'll never forget when Harmison cut Ponting's cheek open at Lord's and not a single Englishmen went over to see how he was. England played with four quick bowlers (3 of genuine pace Flintoff, Harmison, Jones) and it was a winning strategy against an amazing but aging Australian batting line up.

  • featurewriter on February 16, 2014, 22:39 GMT

    It's pretty impressive when you compare Johnson and Holding. Johnson has taken more wickets in less Tests at a better strike rate than one of the greatest bowlers in history. I had the pleasure of watching Holding as a teenager and he was mesmerising. Johnson is just as fearsome today as Mikey was in his day. I'm now turning on the TV just to watch Mitch bowl...anything else is just gravy.

  • nareshgb1 on February 16, 2014, 22:46 GMT

    AND....everybody knows who to blame for the FInn mess-up - KP.

  • pick_at_the_seam on February 16, 2014, 23:04 GMT

    You know you are quick and lethal when Michael Holding is waving your flag.

  • thejesusofcool on February 16, 2014, 23:14 GMT

    How great to hear from Michael Holding.

    Saw him take all those 14 wickets at the Oval. On a pitch so dead, Bob Willis taking the new ball for us was like an 8-yo bowling to Dad with a tennis ball!!

    Sheer pace and class. Still a cherished memory nearly 38 years on!!

    Think some of our guys & maybe a Saffer or two will still be remembering MJ's performances 38 years on, too-wow!

  • on February 16, 2014, 23:18 GMT

    Good article. But how could the auther or MHolding forget to mention the name of Shoib Akhter who had express pace and still holds the world record of bowling the fastest ball in crickets history.He single handidly destroyed many batting line upps and that often on dead sub continent wickets.Another discriminatary attitude towards Pak cricketers.

  • disco_bob on February 16, 2014, 23:25 GMT

    I hope England are fully ashamed of (as well as humbled) for mocking and taunting MJ, because he is a revelation for world cricket, just when everyone thought that Dale Steyn was the pinnacle, EVERYONE now see what they were missing, and I am certain that even the SA supporters do not mind seeing their team pummelled by Johnson because it's so exciting to watch. Only the Indian supporters seem to not grasp it, perhaps due to having a big chip on their shoulders about fast bowlers.

  • disco_bob on February 16, 2014, 23:26 GMT

    Forgot to say that this is the a most intelligent and accurate piece from Brettig, thanks for putting the truth in print.

  • Diaz54 on February 16, 2014, 23:42 GMT

    Michael, has overlooked Shoaib Akthar, he was express in fact faster than any one....I was there at Sharjah to witness his 100 mph thunder bolts. Only for his discipline, he should have achieved more. It is not all about speed, aggression comes into it. Finn may be fast a times, but lacks aggression....take Waqqar and wasim....and of course many West Indian bowlers of that famed era! Sure it makes for exciting cricket....all I waiting for is counter attack by the batsmen....who will it be?

  • on February 17, 2014, 0:00 GMT

    Michael Holding makes a lot of sense here. He doesn't want to see blood on the pitch but does want to see bowlers getting more of a go. I agree with that.

    Mitchell Johnson is the premier bowler in the world today without any doubt. Very few opposing batsmen can play against him. That would also include the likes of Clarke, Haddin, Watson and especially Warner. I'm sure they're counting their lucky stars that they don't have to play against Johnson!