Sri Lanka v Australia, 3rd Test, SSC, Colombo, 3rd day September 18, 2011

Johnson still searching for consistency

Mitchell Johnson is struggling, and while it is not clear why, it could have something to do with his uneasy bowling action
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Mitchell Johnson runs up now, he bowls, it's angled across the right-hander, left alone outside the off stump, no run ...

So runs a description of a typical Johnson delivery, one that has been on offer all too often lately. When Johnson is in full flow, the delivery is interspersed with regular wickets, gained through pace, occasional swing and a vicious, armpit-seeking short ball. Presently, though, he is not in full flow, and is increasingly mired in the sort of Test-wicket drought that no one would want to endure, especially not as they near their 30th birthday.

Nine months have passed since Johnson caught lightning in a bottle in a Test match. At the time, his six first-innings wickets against England in Perth carried the whiff of a happy accident: having not swung the ball an inch in Brisbane, he was dropped for the second Test in Adelaide, before suddenly beginning to swerve it around corners. Regrettably, the next five Tests have proven that a freak event is precisely what it was. Across these matches, he has taken only 11 wickets at a cost of more than 50. When he walked off the WACA ground his bowling average was 29.00, it is now nudging 31.00. They are the sort of figures that get a bowler dropped, no matter how senior or potentially dangerous.

In subsequent Ashes jousts in Melbourne and Sydney, Johnson was taken for four an over as he struggled for swing or even basic direction. His last contribution to the series was to lose his bails first ball to Chris Tremlett, as the Barmy Army sang mockingly from the stands. Aiming to make amends, Johnson appeared to do all the right things in the off-season that followed. He chose to forsake the Twenty20 Big Bash League to concentrate on Test matches, trained hard in the nets, and developed a relationship with his new bowling coach Craig McDermott - the enigmatic Troy Cooley had moved on to the Centre of Excellence. Rested from the tour match that preceded the Tests, Johnson even swung the odd delivery on the practice pitches at P Sara Oval, McDermott collecting them watchfully in a baseball glove.

Yet, on the resumption of Test cricket against Sri Lank in Galle, Johnson's bowling seemed curiously muted. Though he was no less accurate than usual, and played his part as a member of the bowling ensemble that secured a meritorious victory on a difficult pitch, a certain spark was missing. Australia's fielding coach, Steve Rixon, had predicted that Johnson had the potential to run through the hosts on a pitch with uneven bounce, but he took only two wickets in the match. There was no swing discernible, even though Ryan Harris and Shane Watson gained enough to pose consistent problems for batsmen young and old.

The pattern has continued on less helpful strips in Pallekele and Colombo, as Sri Lanka played him with some care but also took advantage of plenty of opportunities to score. His only wicket so far at the SSC involved a meaty drive intercepted at short extra cover by Ricky Ponting: not exactly the bowled, lbw or slips catch he has seemed to be looking for. Johnson's offspinning slower ball is excellent, but even that could be delivered with more regularity, to provoke the sort of miscue that nearly ended the innings of Tillakaratne Dilshan on the third morning. By the afternoon he was being treated with some contempt by Angelo Mathews, and Ricky Ponting was offering frequent advice.

Why Johnson has struggled for wickets is a matter of debate. He has not swung the ball, but that has not stopped him from discomforting and dismissing batsmen in the past. He is not bowling with the greatest control, yet, there have been times when he has bowled far worse. Johnson's top pace here is around the 145kph mark, which is consistent with his upper register over the previous four years. And his mind and heart seem to be in the right space, as evidenced by a friendly, chatty visage across the tour.

Johnson's nadir took place during the first Ashes Test at Lord's in 2009. At the time he was expected to be Australia's best threat with the ball, yet over the course of that match he was the tourists' greatest liability. Dirty family laundry aired in the press did not help. Ever since he has worked at being at once tougher and happier, and also a little thicker-skinned. No such problems have been evident in 2011, and so cannot be considered central to his present torpor.

The answer, if there is one, may lie in the place where Johnson is most vulnerable - his bowling action. Johnson's method has always had something to it, but something missing as well. It is inherently difficult to judge how well Johnson is bowling, simply because his action does not exist in the easy space between instinct and training that most quality international bowlers inhabit. Save for days like that one in Perth, every ball can seem a battle, and Johnson is in the habit of holding up his left arm in subtle rehearsal immediately after most of his deliveries.

With the handicap of his technique, Johnson has often relied on the confluence of environmental factors for his most telling moments. He first emerged as an international bowler of note on a damp, humid night in Kuala Lumpur in 2006, skittling four India batsmen, including Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar, in a handful of overs. The planets aligned then, as they did again in Perth. When they will next is anybody's guess, not least the national selectors'. They must now decide how long is too long to wait between stand-out spells, and at the moment the gap is starting to yawn. One more series may be all he has left.

For the moment, the location of that series is a source of hope. Australia's next Test assignment is in South Africa. This, of course, was the scene of Johnson's most triumphant performances. In 2009 he swung the new ball and dished out blood and thunder, proving the ideal spearhead as the tourists enjoyed an unexpected 2-1 victory. The effort was striking for both its swing and its hostility, and the consensus was that Johnson had formally arrived. He has been coming and going ever since.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dkarthur on September 19, 2011, 8:30 GMT

    I don't think the problem is just Johnson's - overall Australia's bowling over the last few years has (with the kindest spin) been poor. Great bowlers rarely are standalone - they work with partners - backing each other up. If Mitchell was working with McGrath and/or Warne things would/could/should be different (Unfortunately McGrath and Warne were truly once in a generation bowlers). England's great strength over the last few seasons has been the ability of their seamers and spinners to work well together - I don't rate any of them individually as highly as McGrath or Warne - but as a team they work together brilliantly. Johnson desperately needs someone else in the Aussie bowling line up to start hitting some form.

  • on September 19, 2011, 8:25 GMT

    i think he should just bowl fast as he can with cutters and reverse swing, just as long as the other 2 bowlers keep it tight then its ok to have someone who is all over the place but can destroy a batting line up when on song. sri lanka battered well and scored big but cause we kept it tight they scored slow thus making srilankas chance of winning or a result very difficult.

  • c3vzn on September 19, 2011, 7:39 GMT

    Could someone please drop Johnson for a series or two, remodel his action no matter how hard it may be and get him to play for WA for a while. By then he will be ready for the series against India at home.

  • REH223 on September 19, 2011, 7:13 GMT

    MITCHELL JOHNSON: goto MR.WASIM AKRAM and get some useful tips from him if u want to flourish!!!!!!!!!!!! Don't waste ur time with McDermott.

  • Okakaboka on September 19, 2011, 6:40 GMT

    Johnston is a completely different bowler to what he was 4 years ago. Different action and speed.....swing is gone! He is now just a grade cricketer. @Peter Bourke....You are spot on.....North would make...0,0, 115, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 105, 0, 0, and so on...well, you know what I mean. Johnston.....well, the bowling equivalent! Our best bowling attack NOW....Harris, Pattinson, Siddle, Copeland, Bollinger with spin from...um.....ohhh...Has O'Keefe stopped calling Hilditch names??? Oh, okay...O'Keefe....with young Glen Maxwell to help out with ODIs.

  • crh8971 on September 19, 2011, 6:27 GMT

    What I find frustrating about MJ is that he seems to have given up trying to fix his action and just adopts the Aussie approach of running in and hitting the pitch hard. This is a great shame because for a few, fleeting months when he did get the action more upright his line improved and he was able to produce the inswinger on a regualr basis. That meant batsmen were not confident leaving outside off stump or exactly what line to play. The result was more edges and more LBW's and 47 wickets in 8 tests against NZ and a high quality SA line up. Then as we know it all fell apart against England in 2009 and hasn't been the same since. One thing the Aussies should have learnt last summer from the Poms is that high quality medium pace at 130kph to 140kp with seem and swing is far superior to just hitting the pitch hard at 145kph and not doing anything with the ball. MJ could play for another five years if he fixed his action but will be gone in a year or two if he doesn't.

  • unbiased_benaud on September 19, 2011, 6:25 GMT

    Mitchell Johnson is a good enough bowler to be in the squad. He never gets belted for consecetive sixes, and there is glitz and glamour associated with him and his WAG off the field.

  • on September 19, 2011, 6:05 GMT

    for all who wants mitch to be dropped, can anyone tell me on how many occasions siddle has got wickets with new ball? johnson had one poor match with new ball against england at lord's and thereafter ha wasn't given new ball. Both siddle and copeland are settling the batsmen rather than troubling them.give johnson the new ball atleast inSA or drop him and get ready to be smashed all over by Kallis,Amla and devilliers.

  • Aussasinator on September 19, 2011, 5:50 GMT

    He's lost the skills of swingling the ball and after injuries, is concentrating on pace, relying heavily on shoulder strength. It will weaken in a year or two.

  • on September 19, 2011, 4:14 GMT

    I can't believe everyone is calling for MJs head. He has been their star bowler for years now. Why are people not encouraging him? He has bowled quite well on these flat tracks. Who are the young players who can replace him? Copeland? Please. The Sri Lankans have already figured him out and he chucks as well. Harris is very good but injury prone. Bollinger should be playing instead of Copeland. Johnson is still the best strike bowler on the team. Give him encouragement. If you do, he will also perform well with the bat. He is certainly a huge asset to the team in there area as well.

  • dkarthur on September 19, 2011, 8:30 GMT

    I don't think the problem is just Johnson's - overall Australia's bowling over the last few years has (with the kindest spin) been poor. Great bowlers rarely are standalone - they work with partners - backing each other up. If Mitchell was working with McGrath and/or Warne things would/could/should be different (Unfortunately McGrath and Warne were truly once in a generation bowlers). England's great strength over the last few seasons has been the ability of their seamers and spinners to work well together - I don't rate any of them individually as highly as McGrath or Warne - but as a team they work together brilliantly. Johnson desperately needs someone else in the Aussie bowling line up to start hitting some form.

  • on September 19, 2011, 8:25 GMT

    i think he should just bowl fast as he can with cutters and reverse swing, just as long as the other 2 bowlers keep it tight then its ok to have someone who is all over the place but can destroy a batting line up when on song. sri lanka battered well and scored big but cause we kept it tight they scored slow thus making srilankas chance of winning or a result very difficult.

  • c3vzn on September 19, 2011, 7:39 GMT

    Could someone please drop Johnson for a series or two, remodel his action no matter how hard it may be and get him to play for WA for a while. By then he will be ready for the series against India at home.

  • REH223 on September 19, 2011, 7:13 GMT

    MITCHELL JOHNSON: goto MR.WASIM AKRAM and get some useful tips from him if u want to flourish!!!!!!!!!!!! Don't waste ur time with McDermott.

  • Okakaboka on September 19, 2011, 6:40 GMT

    Johnston is a completely different bowler to what he was 4 years ago. Different action and speed.....swing is gone! He is now just a grade cricketer. @Peter Bourke....You are spot on.....North would make...0,0, 115, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 105, 0, 0, and so on...well, you know what I mean. Johnston.....well, the bowling equivalent! Our best bowling attack NOW....Harris, Pattinson, Siddle, Copeland, Bollinger with spin from...um.....ohhh...Has O'Keefe stopped calling Hilditch names??? Oh, okay...O'Keefe....with young Glen Maxwell to help out with ODIs.

  • crh8971 on September 19, 2011, 6:27 GMT

    What I find frustrating about MJ is that he seems to have given up trying to fix his action and just adopts the Aussie approach of running in and hitting the pitch hard. This is a great shame because for a few, fleeting months when he did get the action more upright his line improved and he was able to produce the inswinger on a regualr basis. That meant batsmen were not confident leaving outside off stump or exactly what line to play. The result was more edges and more LBW's and 47 wickets in 8 tests against NZ and a high quality SA line up. Then as we know it all fell apart against England in 2009 and hasn't been the same since. One thing the Aussies should have learnt last summer from the Poms is that high quality medium pace at 130kph to 140kp with seem and swing is far superior to just hitting the pitch hard at 145kph and not doing anything with the ball. MJ could play for another five years if he fixed his action but will be gone in a year or two if he doesn't.

  • unbiased_benaud on September 19, 2011, 6:25 GMT

    Mitchell Johnson is a good enough bowler to be in the squad. He never gets belted for consecetive sixes, and there is glitz and glamour associated with him and his WAG off the field.

  • on September 19, 2011, 6:05 GMT

    for all who wants mitch to be dropped, can anyone tell me on how many occasions siddle has got wickets with new ball? johnson had one poor match with new ball against england at lord's and thereafter ha wasn't given new ball. Both siddle and copeland are settling the batsmen rather than troubling them.give johnson the new ball atleast inSA or drop him and get ready to be smashed all over by Kallis,Amla and devilliers.

  • Aussasinator on September 19, 2011, 5:50 GMT

    He's lost the skills of swingling the ball and after injuries, is concentrating on pace, relying heavily on shoulder strength. It will weaken in a year or two.

  • on September 19, 2011, 4:14 GMT

    I can't believe everyone is calling for MJs head. He has been their star bowler for years now. Why are people not encouraging him? He has bowled quite well on these flat tracks. Who are the young players who can replace him? Copeland? Please. The Sri Lankans have already figured him out and he chucks as well. Harris is very good but injury prone. Bollinger should be playing instead of Copeland. Johnson is still the best strike bowler on the team. Give him encouragement. If you do, he will also perform well with the bat. He is certainly a huge asset to the team in there area as well.

  • ozziefan08 on September 19, 2011, 4:14 GMT

    Watching him bowl yesterday was painful, Except for the slower ball that almost did Dilshan. He really cannot contain or get wickets. Johnson was bowling far to wide outside off stump, his bouncer was either too short or too full, the rising delivery that looks to break batsman's ribs was just another ball floating down the leg side. He also bowls 1-2 boundary balls an over. Seriously he isn't up for test cricket, Sri Lanka have played him cautiously but they could of attacked him and it would of looked like another bowling effort at Lords. All the while Tony Greig is saying he bowled well. Please, I don't know what 'favors' he gives to the CA hierarchy but he needs to be dropped. Doug Bollinger anyone? after an ODI series like he had it was hard to comprehend why he wasnt in the test side.

  • on September 19, 2011, 4:04 GMT

    I've said it once and I'll say it again - he's the Marcus North of bowling

  • Marcio on September 19, 2011, 3:34 GMT

    I did write elsewhere yesterday that he should be cut from the team, I guess the truth is that Johnson hasn't bowled that badly most of the time on this tour. And he has had a heap of bad luck with dropped catches and the like. In this test he really needed to step up a level after Harris withdrew, but has pretty much been the same. The other factor is the flat decks in tests 2 & 3. But that's why he is there, to extract life out of lifeless pitches. It's also fair to say that its the batsmen's fault that AUS has some chance of loosing this match (though i don't think they will), as too many got out playing poor shots to ordinary deliveries in the 1st innings.

  • landl47 on September 19, 2011, 3:34 GMT

    I guess the problem with Johnson is that, on the few occasions he gets it right, he looks so good that the selectors keep sticking with him hoping that he'll do it again. His spell against England in Perth 2010 was spectacular, pace and swing bowling of the highest quality. The trouble is he took 9 wickets in that match for not many and 6 wickets in the other three matches he played in that series for a heck of a lot. When you look at his figures for the year before this latest test (in which he has as I write taken 1-116) he's taken 30 wickets in 10 tests at an average of 36, and that includes the Perth test and a five-for against India, so you can imagine how bad the others were. Even though I support England, as a cricket fan I'd like to see Aus playing well again and I can't see how 'playing well' includes whatever it is Johnson does most of the time.

  • Aspraso on September 19, 2011, 3:33 GMT

    There is a 5-wickets haul somewhere round the corner for Johnson -- only remember the world is round and is there a corner?

  • pvwadekar on September 19, 2011, 1:58 GMT

    Mitchell Johnson needs to forget about bowling with excessive speed and focus on the swing and seam measurements. When he was young bowling in the 145 to 150 km/hr range is fine. but you cannot expect him to bowl in the same manner now .. it will shorten his career. Just look at Brett Lee. Australia cannot afford to loose a bowler of his caliber.His action is so bad .. the left arm has to be close to vertical along with proper seam position. Reduce the speed a bit bur focus more on accuracy and swing(conventional and reverse). Use the bouncers as a surprise weapon. And also improve the batting .. he can be a very valuable no 8 or even no 7 batsman. IF Australia have to be in the top four .. they need him to perform well

  • Prav229 on September 19, 2011, 1:48 GMT

    There's a handful of promising young quicks coming through, Starc, Hazelwood, Pattinson, Cutting. Seems like a matter of time before Johnson has to go.

  • demon_bowler on September 19, 2011, 1:47 GMT

    PLEASE do not drop Mitch, Australia! Yours, an England fan.

  • rohanbala on September 19, 2011, 1:41 GMT

    Thanks to the author - Daniel Brettig and some of our readers... The ceremonies have begun for Mitch, to dump him 'unceremoniously' for what he has done for his team in the past and for not being able to achieve over the past few matches in the recent times! To drop a player such as Johnson would be a unwise move. What he needs is encouragement and advice from former greats to correct his action. To expect every bowler to take 4 to 5 wickets in every match on pitches such as the ones in play in Srilanka, is asking for too much. The right move would be to include him for the SA tour, watch his performance and take a decision. If only Mitch had contributed more consistently with the bat, there would be no voices asking him to be dropped.

  • Bone101 on September 19, 2011, 1:41 GMT

    Mitch is a decent ODI bowler, but he can't remain in the test line up. In tests, batsmen can simply wait for the loose delivery. Next please...

  • unregisteredalien on September 19, 2011, 1:33 GMT

    It's always seemed to me that there was one adage in play with Johnson: "sh!t gets wickets". International batsmen have now learned to leave his trash well alone and he is no longer being gifted wickets. I can't see how his place can continue to be justified on the basis of a once-annually searing spell on a helpful pitch. Much is being made of Australia's healthy ranks of young, up-and-coming pace bowlers, so please let's turn our focus to the likes of Copeland, Pattinson, George or whoever else you like. Send Mitch back to the Shield with a pat on the back and a "thanks for trying", and select him again when he takes enough wickets on a consistent enough basis to command a place in the side.

  • smudgeon on September 19, 2011, 0:21 GMT

    I think he could do with an extended run back in domestic (although keep him for ODIs), didn't the Argus Review suggest the selectors reward good performance? If he he performs in domestic, he can press for reselection. What I don't understand is that he did such a good job in the preceding ODIs on this tour - what's changed? And the majority of those wickets weren't down to impatience or the attacking mindset of ODI batsmen, either. A complete mystery, this man. And as much as I'm a fan, he needs to pull it together very soon because there's plenty of younger Aussie quicks who are ready to step up if given the chance. Australia's main strength has always been depth in domestic ranks, and if persisting with underperforming bowlers in the test team means we never get to see talented domestic performers getting a crack at the top level, it's doing them and Australian cricket a real disservice.

  • MinusZero on September 19, 2011, 0:03 GMT

    I dont know how Johnson has lasted so long. Australia can't afford to carry a player. Johnson is quite clearly a passenger at the moment. Maybe next time he is dropped, he should be sent back to shield cricket...not just the nets like during the ashes. Just dont bring back Hilfenhaus, he is just as average, maybe even worse.

  • Meety on September 18, 2011, 23:49 GMT

    @David47 - I dunno who would of bagged you for putting forward Copeland, as a lot of people were noticing him 12mths ago? == == == On the topic of MJ, I'm starting to lose patience. The 11 wickets in 5 matches doesn't bother me as much as it includes the last 2 Ashes Tests where everything was FUBAR for the WHOLE team. I would like to see him in SA, as the bounce there will give him as best chance as anywhere to get wickets, if he fails, then bring some new talent in against NZ, (pre-India series). If MJ gets dropped then I'd only consider him a short-form specialist & Perth Test specialist. == == == Over the last few weeks people have been mentioning Starc & Hazlewood & Cummins. Cummins should NOT be considered (for Tests) at the moment because a) injured, b) he needs another season in the Shield. I think he has MASSIVE potential - but not yet. Hazlewood needs another 2 seasons as he has been injured 18mths. Starc has NOT looked that goob in A & Emerging matches.

  • Wozza-CY on September 18, 2011, 23:44 GMT

    Johnson was quoted as saying he wants to narrow the gap between his good days and his bad days. I think he's on the way to doing that but I'm not sure it's enough to keep his place. However, with two test series so close together and vastly different playing conditions, I think players like Johnson, Hughes & Khwaja should all get a go in SA. After that tour the selectors will be in a much more informed position to make a decision on combinations for the home summer. From reading the reports, Haddins time clock might be ticking sooner.

  • bobagorof on September 18, 2011, 23:13 GMT

    Personally I'm not sure I'd have him on the trip to SA. With Ryan Harris bowling well (when fit) and a few of the younger brigade starting to push for selection the time might be right to drop bowlers who don't perform. Johnson has been around and is experienced, but Australia has a few other experienced bowlers (and a bowling coach who has a lot of playing experience) to 'guide' the younger bowlers. Time to look at George, Pattinson, and Starc.

  • 512fm on September 18, 2011, 22:57 GMT

    The problem for him is how low his bowling arm has gotten, it really is amazing to go back to some spells from Johnson at the start of his career and you can see how much higher his arm was and how much deadlier he could be. He is unfortunately now Australias Steve Harmison and needs to go if Australia want to make any progress. No surprise that when England got rid of Harmison they got better.

  • HatsforBats on September 18, 2011, 22:47 GMT

    You don't judge a player based on a 5 game sample; as the author states, at the start of this series his avg was 29, perfectly respectable in the modern game. He has had plenty of plays & misses this series and has been unlucky not to pick up more wickets. In this bowling attack as the 3rd seamer behind Harris & Copeland and with Watson as backup, Johnson offers a short burst attacking option. He will go 0/100 for some games, but then you'll get 6/30. That's acceptable. On fair tracks (unlike this pathetic road, which is the real issue in this game) his pace and lift makes him uncomfortable to face. His batting is more of a problem.

  • David47 on September 18, 2011, 22:35 GMT

    SL are now in a strong position - well done to them (although I'm not convinced that they fully deserve to draw this series). Now, I've said it so many times before (and often been howled down for it), but I'll say it again - Johnson has to go. He's a once-a-series bowler at best, and that's simply not good enough to hold your place. This guy has got obvious and serious flaws with his bowling action and has done absolutely nothing about them for three years. While the coaching staff should also be sacked, the player ultimately has to take responsibility for his performances. In the past the repsonses have been - "yes, but who with?" Well, there's Pattinson, Bollinger, Cummins, Butterworth, George - anybody really. C'mon selectors - this has to be his last test. On a positive note - Copeland has done well in his first series (I coped a lot of flack when I suggested him for the Ashes last summer too).

  • Biggus on September 18, 2011, 22:34 GMT

    @deadzone64-Did you watch any of the game? I don't expect perfection, far from it, but when he fails to produce most of the time, which is the case, he drags the rest of the team down too and whatever pressure other bowlers may be able to create at the other end is simply released as soon as he bowls. Not in 40 years of watching the game have I seen anything quite like it. Compared to Mitchell 'I haven't a clue where it's going' Johnson Jeff Thomson seems like Glenn McGrath. You'll get your wish, as he'll be retained on the off chance that he'll be able to do what he did nine months ago at the WACA. 'Fifthman' is spot on. Other teams, much like yourself, will be keen for us to keep him.

  • SDHM on September 18, 2011, 21:58 GMT

    He's nearly 30? He seems so much younger to me; I think it's that inconsistency, that ability to go from the sublime to the ridiculous. Reminds me more of a young tearaway than an experienced bowler. And Jonesy, what part of 11 wickets at 50 suggests he is taking wickets, as you so confidently claim he is?!

  • zico123 on September 18, 2011, 21:53 GMT

    Johnson is the most inconsistant bowler played for Australia in long time to come, yet Australia play consider him their best bowler and play him, he should have been dropped 1 year ago.

  • Fifthman on September 18, 2011, 21:46 GMT

    Let's get this straight - opposition batsmen do NOT fear Johnson. He's inconsistent and ineffective at best, a leaky sieve at worst. I'll bet England's batsmen are praying that Aus keep faith with him until the next Ashes. They know easy pickings when they see them. And Mitch an allrounder? Don't make me laugh. If he's an allrounder, then so is Graeme Swann. But don't let me put you off him. Let Aus persist with him and batsmen all around the world will be happy.

  • likeintcricket on September 18, 2011, 18:50 GMT

    Even the greatest of Australian fan doesn't expect too much from this bowling lineup. As Ranatunga pointed out earlier that Srilanka is a better team on paper but underachieving. As Srilanka themselves are missing some match winner Australia could play out this test match but its still not easy for them to get a draw.

  • on September 18, 2011, 18:34 GMT

    This fella is a good baler in bouncy wickets ill have him in my team, try to get him to play for the presidents in Auckland not much luck yet!!!!

  • jonesy2 on September 18, 2011, 17:59 GMT

    johnson inconsistent wow never heard that before! for gods sake he has been taking wickets, bowling well, contributing. hes a matchwinner, nobody in world cricket or cricket history for that matter can do the things he does and he is an allrounder that is invaluble for any team. so many experts on here including the author who have no clue.

  • whoster on September 18, 2011, 17:44 GMT

    The opposition still fear Johnson because of his unpredictability - but for every match winning effort he puts in, there's five or six where he's a liability and can contribute to defeats. I think a poor series in South Africa could be the final nail in his coffin - but I wouldn't write him off. Another factor in his poor form is his batting. He threatened briefly to turn into a genuine all rounder, but is now a distinctly ordinary no.8 batsman. The SA series should be fascinating for several reasons, and Johnson's form will be one of them.

  • Winsome on September 18, 2011, 17:20 GMT

    SSC is tough for very good bowlers, let alone one that relies on the stars aligning in the right order. He's played 45 test matches now and is almost 30. I can't see him suddenly becoming regularly useful. Problem for Aus is that like with opening batsmen, there isn't that many fit youngsters ready to leap in to the breach so to speak. I won't be sorry when he's finally gone from the Aus team, his predictable unpredictability has become excessively boring. Whoever it is, should to be given a number of tests to bed in... and I'll bet they are not.

  • Behind_the_bowlers_arm on September 18, 2011, 17:08 GMT

    We not seen enough yet???? Sure? Talking about consistency for a bowler almost 30. Wake up and smell the coffee .... IT AINT GONNA HAPPEN. This match has been instructive hopefully for the new selectors and coach waiting to take charge. To make it simple , Australia will not win the Ashes with Johnson, Siddle or Haddin ...for starters. Why continue with them?

  • Matt. on September 18, 2011, 16:55 GMT

    He can't be kept based on a hand full of destructive performances. He's got to go if australia are going to move forward

  • deadzone64 on September 18, 2011, 16:06 GMT

    @OhhhhMattyMatty & Biggus, you simply don't get to first-class cricket, let alone the international circuit, if you are "talentless". If his action was indeed truly *that* awful, he he would of found no success whatsoever. Drop him down to Sheffield Shield level if his performance continues to wane below international standards, but writing him off altogether is completely unfair and ridiculous. It's both sad and disgraceful that so many cricket spectators such as yourselves feel like they know what's best for every team out there, giving no regard to the hard work these athletes do and no respect to their considerable abilities. Remember that unlike you, they are not perfect, and have times when they just can't perform up to your perfect expectations.

  • morethan20-20 on September 18, 2011, 15:55 GMT

    This is the same problem and discussion over again !! To quote a good friend of mine...If you want a consistent team, pick consistent performers !!! It is time to remove this protected player.

  • OhhhhMattyMatty on September 18, 2011, 15:32 GMT

    You can't bowl consistent swing with such a horrid action. Even during his "success" he got most of his wickets with the slash to gully. Now batsmen know to leave the "stright" one, he gets no-one out! Talentless.

  • on September 18, 2011, 15:24 GMT

    theres no doubt he is trying but he needs to have time in sheffield shield cricket to find that lightning he once had

  • Brumby90 on September 18, 2011, 15:13 GMT

    Whilst ever Johnson and Siddle are in the Australian team there is no way the side can bowl out teams in test matches. Johnson is far too wayward and both lack any ability to move the ball at all and generally bowl too short. Both have been given extended runs and not improved in the slightest. Time to give their spots to young guys who may improve and learn

  • Biggus on September 18, 2011, 14:15 GMT

    "One more series may be all he has left. " Please NO, he's not the way to the future, so let's get rid of him now and give someone else a shot. Honestly, if he were a car, or any other product, you'd take him back and ask for a refund. I have no idea what his problem is, apart from having an awful action, and frankly I'm past caring.

  • popcorn on September 18, 2011, 14:05 GMT

    Mitchell Johnson is no "metronome- consistent" Glenn McGrath.Yet, ALL opposition Teams fear him for his X factor - Australia vs. South Africa, Perth 2008, Australia vs. South Africa in South Africa 2009, Australia vs. England, Perth 2010. My nickname for him,is W0W= Wicket, dot ball, Wicket. He has done that so many times. He CANNOT be dropped.

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  • popcorn on September 18, 2011, 14:05 GMT

    Mitchell Johnson is no "metronome- consistent" Glenn McGrath.Yet, ALL opposition Teams fear him for his X factor - Australia vs. South Africa, Perth 2008, Australia vs. South Africa in South Africa 2009, Australia vs. England, Perth 2010. My nickname for him,is W0W= Wicket, dot ball, Wicket. He has done that so many times. He CANNOT be dropped.

  • Biggus on September 18, 2011, 14:15 GMT

    "One more series may be all he has left. " Please NO, he's not the way to the future, so let's get rid of him now and give someone else a shot. Honestly, if he were a car, or any other product, you'd take him back and ask for a refund. I have no idea what his problem is, apart from having an awful action, and frankly I'm past caring.

  • Brumby90 on September 18, 2011, 15:13 GMT

    Whilst ever Johnson and Siddle are in the Australian team there is no way the side can bowl out teams in test matches. Johnson is far too wayward and both lack any ability to move the ball at all and generally bowl too short. Both have been given extended runs and not improved in the slightest. Time to give their spots to young guys who may improve and learn

  • on September 18, 2011, 15:24 GMT

    theres no doubt he is trying but he needs to have time in sheffield shield cricket to find that lightning he once had

  • OhhhhMattyMatty on September 18, 2011, 15:32 GMT

    You can't bowl consistent swing with such a horrid action. Even during his "success" he got most of his wickets with the slash to gully. Now batsmen know to leave the "stright" one, he gets no-one out! Talentless.

  • morethan20-20 on September 18, 2011, 15:55 GMT

    This is the same problem and discussion over again !! To quote a good friend of mine...If you want a consistent team, pick consistent performers !!! It is time to remove this protected player.

  • deadzone64 on September 18, 2011, 16:06 GMT

    @OhhhhMattyMatty & Biggus, you simply don't get to first-class cricket, let alone the international circuit, if you are "talentless". If his action was indeed truly *that* awful, he he would of found no success whatsoever. Drop him down to Sheffield Shield level if his performance continues to wane below international standards, but writing him off altogether is completely unfair and ridiculous. It's both sad and disgraceful that so many cricket spectators such as yourselves feel like they know what's best for every team out there, giving no regard to the hard work these athletes do and no respect to their considerable abilities. Remember that unlike you, they are not perfect, and have times when they just can't perform up to your perfect expectations.

  • Matt. on September 18, 2011, 16:55 GMT

    He can't be kept based on a hand full of destructive performances. He's got to go if australia are going to move forward

  • Behind_the_bowlers_arm on September 18, 2011, 17:08 GMT

    We not seen enough yet???? Sure? Talking about consistency for a bowler almost 30. Wake up and smell the coffee .... IT AINT GONNA HAPPEN. This match has been instructive hopefully for the new selectors and coach waiting to take charge. To make it simple , Australia will not win the Ashes with Johnson, Siddle or Haddin ...for starters. Why continue with them?

  • Winsome on September 18, 2011, 17:20 GMT

    SSC is tough for very good bowlers, let alone one that relies on the stars aligning in the right order. He's played 45 test matches now and is almost 30. I can't see him suddenly becoming regularly useful. Problem for Aus is that like with opening batsmen, there isn't that many fit youngsters ready to leap in to the breach so to speak. I won't be sorry when he's finally gone from the Aus team, his predictable unpredictability has become excessively boring. Whoever it is, should to be given a number of tests to bed in... and I'll bet they are not.