Johnson names Perth six-for as his best
Mitchell Johnson has rated his devastating return of 6 for 38 as better than his career-best haul against South Africa here two summers ago. But despite swinging the ball further than he ever has, he said he wasn't even trying to curl it into the pads of England's right-handers.
"I think it's a bonus," he said of the shape that helped him pick up the lbws of Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood before lunch on the second day. The dismissals were part of a damaging burst of 4 for 7 in 27 balls that started England's fall for 187, and he finished off the tail to gain his second-best Test figures.
The performance surged Australia back into the series - they had a lead of 200 at stumps - but Johnson isn't expecting to swing the ball in every innings and was thankful for a helpful breeze. "I like to run in and try to hit the wicket hard," he said. "When the ball does swing, it definitely puts doubts in the mind of the batsmen.
"I haven't got all my wickets bowling inswingers to the right-handers. I do get the ball to go across right-handers and get nicks. When I swing it back in, it definitely helps me pick up more wickets."
Johnson spent the week before the Test with Troy Cooley, the bowling coach, and the conditioner Stuart Karppinen to rectify a string of technical and physical faults. It was a controversial decision at the time because it kept him out of Western Australia's Sheffield Shield game, but the plan turned out to be perfect.
"One thing I was working on in the nets with Troy and Stuart was getting my momentum going forward, instead of just dropping off to square leg," he said. "I think that's definitely helped me and got my arm higher and wrist behind the ball a bit better. I also worked on getting my lower-half body strength back to where I needed to be."
Johnson now has 27 wickets at 18.51 in four matches at the WACA, his home ground, and his best Test figures of 8 for 61 came here against South Africa in 2008-09. "I think I bowled better today than then," he said. "But it's only one innings. We need to go out there in the second innings and do it again. There's a long way to go."
The outstanding display also showed England how much of a menace Johnson can be and helped him to move on from his troubled times during the 2009 tour. "To be a big part of this Ashes series is exciting for me," he said.
Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo