Australia v England, 3rd Test, Perth, 4th day December 19, 2010

Ponting hails Johnson's 'all-time great' spell


Mitchell Johnson has spied the doubts in the eyes of the England batsmen after regaining his powers as one of the game's most potent fast bowlers. Johnson responded from his dropping in Adelaide with nine wickets in the third Test, including a game-turning effort on the second day which Ricky Ponting called "one of the all-time great Ashes spells".

His inswingers to the right-handers at 140kph make him a brutal weapon and he was a constant threat to England's batsmen during the 267-run victory. "I saw a bit of doubt in their minds throughout the second innings and when that ball is swinging around it puts a lot of doubt in people's minds," Johnson said. "But there are still two Tests to go and I've got to take it one at a time, keep trying to improve as a cricketer."

Johnson spent two weeks rebuilding his action in the nets with Troy Cooley, the bowling coach, before the contest and Ponting was hugely satisfied with the results. England were 0 for 78 in the first innings before crashing to 187 after Johnson's stunning burst of 4 for 7 in the opening session of the second day.

"The ball was swinging and Mitch's spell was probably one of the all-time great Ashes spells," Ponting said. "Him coming into the game under a bit of pressure as well, it was an amazing achievement and set up this victory and the series for us.

"The spell has transformed him and transformed how they think about him in the English dressing room. Some of the deliveries he bowled will have them seriously thinking about how they play him. I heard rumours coming into the game that they had Mitch's type of bowling worked out - I am not sure they think that now. You don't end up with the record he has by fluke, you have to have a lot of skill and commitment."

After taking 6 for 38 in the first innings, Johnson backed up with 3 for 44 in the second as he and Ryan Harris knocked England over for 123. Harris matched his team-mate's haul of nine wickets, finishing with a career-best 6 for 47.

Harris' collection included four of the five victims on the final morning, with the crucial breakthroughs being the lbw of Ian Bell and the edge of Matt Prior. He has played only four Tests but already has 20 wickets and has quickly become a key member of the developing attack.

"He's not put a foot wrong and is at home in the international game," Ponting said. "It was great to see him get that reward. He has toiled away all week and to see him contribute the way he has is great for him and the team."

Harris' only worry is the state of his right knee, which was operated on a couple of times during the off-season. The pain will stay with him for the rest of his career, but it is not going to stop him from taking part in the fourth Test on Boxing Day.

"He's just taken six-for in a Test match so he's fine," Ponting said. "He's got a couple of extra days off now so that will help."

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • wayne on December 21, 2010, 5:32 GMT

    @Andrew Purdam - I definitely agree. Watching him bat, he looked more confident and together than I've seen him for a good 6 months. And that's how Mitch is - when he's confident, he's almost unplayable. When he's lost his confidence, he's almost unselectable. Thank goodness he's got his groove back, and what a difference it made to the whole team...

  • Allan on December 20, 2010, 13:19 GMT

    Yes. Johnson's preformance was reminiscent of Taylor's demolition of England on their last visit to the West Indies whan he took 5 for 11 at sabina. That win for Wset Indies proved to be the series winner.

  • Dummy4 on December 20, 2010, 10:24 GMT

    Australia"s recent fortunes seem very closely linked to Johnson"s state of mind and action ! When he bowls well Australia wins and it is perhaps easy to see the logic of this- as Australia has been winning rarely and Johnson has been all over the place. If Johnson continues to bowl like this, well supported by Harris and hilfenhaus then Australia will win the Ashes and Ponting will not meet his doom. But Johnson has been known to be inconsistent before. I can"t wait to see how he bowls at the MCG .But he has got England worried and that is always a good sign. Yet spare a thought for Michael Hussey who has been the backbone of the Australian cricket team, innings after innings. I only wish Ponting would make some runs,then the issue would be settled without too much trouble. Who knows? Johnson and the victory might inspire a few other Aussies to follow suit. But what a turnaround! sridhar

  • Dummy4 on December 20, 2010, 10:01 GMT

    go mitch....destroy england batting line up...i wanna see u on song on boxing day

  • Dru on December 20, 2010, 7:10 GMT

    The abilities of Johnson are undeniable and have been on display before to know he has what it takes to be one of the best in the game - probably ever with bat and ball because he can be so devastating with both. The problem is inconsistancy and does he really have control over his abilities. For example how can a guy who cant do a thing right two weeks ago be so devastating now? If he has control over his abilities and is consistent he can be yet another devastatind alrounder in the calibure of Bothom.

  • Dummy4 on December 20, 2010, 5:32 GMT

    Outstanding to see that Johnson may be back. It does ponder the question what Cooley and other coaches and experts have been doing coaching wise in the last 2 years? For heavens sake, the coaches must continue working with Johnson to aim to keep his form consistent. Melbourne will be harder, but as long as he can bowl inswingers, he will be a force. Regarding our batting, it intersts me why at the top level Aust(or any International team) do not tinker with the batting order to suit the conditions. I believe that Punter, and a champion he is, should never come in a 3 if an early wicket falls.If protected, Ponting could emulate Tendulka and play well for Aust for 2 or 3 years. Haddin is a possibilty, or possibly Clarke. Not convinced that Hughes has the technique to play Test cricket? Hopefully another great Aussie in Justin Langer can weave some magic there.

  • Andrew on December 20, 2010, 3:13 GMT

    MJ is the most dangerous bowler in the game (when he is in the groove), the only problem with MJ is that when he is out of the "Groove" he is terrible. Statistically he is the best bowler in the Series in terms of S/R & wickets per match. Not sure how he will go in Melbourne & Sydney - but I will settle for somewhere close to the WACA any day. Totally impossible to quantify - but I have felt "Luck" was with England over the first 2 Tests, with it running Oz way at the WACA. I was pleased that the fielding standard was up (nowhere near where it should be) on the previous 2 Tests, England were better than Oz on Day 1 in the field. I think that Finn & Swann are under pressure as they are being targeted by the Oz batsmen. The player of the series no matter what happens has to be Anderson. If the Poms win - he will have bowled well, if Oz win, it will because of his stupid sledging of the batsmen & MJ - which awoke the sleeping giant. Go Oz 3-1!!!!!!!

  • Dummy4 on December 20, 2010, 2:23 GMT

    I would like to reiterate the words of Mitchell Johnson after the second day. Hilfenhaus played a big part with his tight bowling, reminded me of Glen McGrath, when he would tie up one end for next to no runs, and then Lee/Warne would be taking the wickets with unpredictable bowling. The team is coming together, just need Clarke and Ponting to get some runs, and I think were in for a cracking final two games, as I am in no doubt England will be fighting, and they have the players to do that. For Melbourne, I would be removing Siddle, and adding Hauritz, and if Katich is still injured, giving Khawaja a run.

  • Chris on December 19, 2010, 21:53 GMT

    Different bowler when he can swing it...strange that he couldnt do that in Brisvegas where it swings often. Melb will be a flat dud track thanks to the drop in nature of pitches these days..should Mitchell be given the new ball as its the only chance he will get to swing it? One thing for sure, boxing day promises to be a beauty.

  • Dummy4 on December 19, 2010, 21:46 GMT

    Anyone else think that his 62 in the first innings might have helped his frame of mind for when he came out to bowl? He seemed to really enjoy his cricket those first couple of days.

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