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

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

33

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

  • smudgeon 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...

  • jupiterlaw 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.

  • 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

  • on December 20, 2010, 10:01 GMT

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

  • stormy16 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.

  • 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.

  • Meety 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!!!!!!!

  • 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.

  • Number_5 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.

  • 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.

  • smudgeon 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...

  • jupiterlaw 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.

  • 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

  • on December 20, 2010, 10:01 GMT

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

  • stormy16 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.

  • 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.

  • Meety 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!!!!!!!

  • 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.

  • Number_5 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.

  • 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.

  • Abhijeth_Manohar on December 19, 2010, 21:24 GMT

    Mitchell will need to bring forth the same kind of determination and focus onto the boxing day test match. No doubt the English batsmen will go back to the drawing board and try and figure out how to shed off the Mitchells before the next match. Probably watch what they did to him in the first match. Hopefully he's aware of that and know he will not get the same help he did from the pitch as in Perth.

    As for England, get Hussey and this batting order will crumble. Hussey seems to have taken a leaf outta Sachin's book and started batting better than the Hussey of old. His concentration displays a renewed vigor and every match he shows how much he values his wicket.

  • on December 19, 2010, 20:44 GMT

    Mitchell Johnson is brilliant. People give him all kinds of rubbish for being erratic and say that his success is fluke but Mitch is erratic due to his action and he's proven that he's a match winner. He seems to have come along well at the WACA, being less erratic and the late swing has done him a world of good. He's going to have a lot of confidence going into the next game and he is a confidence bowler and is sure to bowl well.

  • PROTEAFAN on December 19, 2010, 20:37 GMT

    Awesome, just shows how you can never count the Aussies out, no matter the state of their game.

  • Street_Hawk on December 19, 2010, 19:35 GMT

    I said after the 2nd Test that Aussies are going to play 4 men pace attack and leave Beer out which is exactly what they did and won the test comprehensively at WACA. Now, question is what next? They can't play 4 seamers in Melbourne if they want to win. I will say that Ponting has to let go of his ego and bring back Nathan Hauritz. They need him more than anyone on the slow pitches. Also, in place of Hughes they can bring Michael Cosgrove who is an outstanding batsman and could be an answer to the opening problem. Steven Smith at 6 can be handy in Melbourne as a 2nd spinner.

  • on December 19, 2010, 19:33 GMT

    hi guys..settle down now..we are in for a great ashes contest. So interesting to note finn92's comments. He predicted yesterday that Bell and Prior fight back would do the job for England. Today he says Harris/Johnson can bowl only at WACA. interesting eh??

  • on December 19, 2010, 19:31 GMT

    oh he can bowl in south africa aswell finn trust a pommy to say he can just bowl in perth fool 8-)

  • MarkM33 on December 19, 2010, 19:16 GMT

    The guy is an enigma. If he plays like this he is THE match winner for Oz. Hussey can score all the runs he likes but Johnson is the match winner. Without him firing in the 1st test and not playing in the 2nd Oz were never a chance of winning. Good to see he got his swing back - a Johnson without hsi swing is like Warne without his spin.

    For me, the turning point in the match was in the 1st innings when the Poms got Johnson fired up. They tried to get inside his head but only managed to get him focussed as his 50 showed.

    While I would have liked to have seen the Poms win its great to see the Ashes back to it's thrilling best.

  • Nadeem1976 on December 19, 2010, 18:25 GMT

    Game on. Lets see what happens in next two matches. good to see mitchel back and bad to see ponting going out. But all credit goes to hussey for this ashes. Without hussey this ashes would not even be possible. What return for all left handers. Cook, Hussye, Johnson going on.....keep on scoring and taking wickets... What a ashes.

  • on December 19, 2010, 15:54 GMT

    in simple terms WACA is to Johnson wat eden gardens is to bhajji! nevertheless it was a gr8 spell by johnson on day 2

  • Marcio on December 19, 2010, 15:13 GMT

    I am surprised nobody has mentioned what was very obvious to me watching this on TV. From the moment MJ came out to bat he looked happy, confident, as if he was enjoying himself. When he came to bowl, he looked balanced and accurate from the word go. He looked like a new bowler. He then started to swing it. Clearly this is a mental thing, and some coaching has helped. There's no reason why he will not swing it in the last two tests. So even though the wickets will be slower, lower, he will still be a handful. England will bounce back, but they will not have an easy time of it. They should pretend Adelaide never happened.

  • Finn92 on December 19, 2010, 13:46 GMT

    He can only bowl at Perth, he will be back to his inconsistent self by Boxing Day!

  • Something_Witty on December 19, 2010, 13:27 GMT

    @ Sami Baig, have you been paying any attention at all to this series? Ian Chappell said that Johnson should be dropped after Brisbane, and he WAS. And it turned out to be the best thing that has happened to him in a long time, as he was able to fix up various technical flaws and actually start swinging the ball again.

  • popcorn on December 19, 2010, 12:46 GMT

    Mitchell Johnson is lethal. Every Cricketyer goes through ups and downs.As they say," Form is temporary, Class is permanent". Like Mitch has proved. Like Huss has proved. Like Simon Katich has proved.

  • k.mithilesh on December 19, 2010, 12:34 GMT

    The Brian Lara of fast bowling. Left handed, magical on song, infuriatingly frustrating when his mind goes for a toss. Another roller coaster ride for cricket fans a la Brian's career.

  • on December 19, 2010, 12:09 GMT

    Mitchell Johnson has proved Ian Chappel wrong. Mr Chappel told the Aussie selectors to drop Johnson. Now Johnson has shut him up with his performance. The best thing for Chappel to do is to concentrate on his commentary and leave the other matters to the people concerned.

  • on December 19, 2010, 12:03 GMT

    Mitchell Johnson should not have been dropped in the first place but it seemingly did him good as he came back even harder.....england now have something to think about sets up the series nicely

  • prabwal on December 19, 2010, 11:56 GMT

    One should never drop a match-winner.Sometimes, they may not perform at the best of their abilities, but when they do......

  • Winsome on December 19, 2010, 11:26 GMT

    I'll be very surprised if he produces it again in this series. But if he has worked out a technique to keep him in the right frame of mind as much as anything, you never know.

    We can only hope really.

    Getting some swing changes him so much as a bowler, obviously gives him enormous confidence. And it is one of the best things to watch in cricket - a left-arm fast bowler bowling like that.

  • _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on December 19, 2010, 11:12 GMT

    Due to the situation the series was in, I would agree.

  • dsig3 on December 19, 2010, 10:54 GMT

    He bowled well. Comments here that this is a turning point are futile. In future he will bowl very badly at times. It will always be this way with Midge. What Aus need is enough good bowlers to support us when he doesnt fire. When he fires he wins the game for us.

  • handyandy on December 19, 2010, 8:37 GMT

    Hopefully Johnson has finally exorsised his demons and will be able to continue stringing together these great performances.

  • Something_Witty on December 19, 2010, 8:01 GMT

    And it definitely was one of the best in a long long time. Now he needs to make sure his action never crumbles again and he continues to keep up his accuracy and consistent swing. I'd also like to see his pace up at 150kph again, but if swinging the ball and being more consistent costs him 5 K's of pace, I'm fine with that.

  • on December 19, 2010, 7:27 GMT

    Greatest comeback... Congrats punter...

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • on December 19, 2010, 7:27 GMT

    Greatest comeback... Congrats punter...

  • Something_Witty on December 19, 2010, 8:01 GMT

    And it definitely was one of the best in a long long time. Now he needs to make sure his action never crumbles again and he continues to keep up his accuracy and consistent swing. I'd also like to see his pace up at 150kph again, but if swinging the ball and being more consistent costs him 5 K's of pace, I'm fine with that.

  • handyandy on December 19, 2010, 8:37 GMT

    Hopefully Johnson has finally exorsised his demons and will be able to continue stringing together these great performances.

  • dsig3 on December 19, 2010, 10:54 GMT

    He bowled well. Comments here that this is a turning point are futile. In future he will bowl very badly at times. It will always be this way with Midge. What Aus need is enough good bowlers to support us when he doesnt fire. When he fires he wins the game for us.

  • _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on December 19, 2010, 11:12 GMT

    Due to the situation the series was in, I would agree.

  • Winsome on December 19, 2010, 11:26 GMT

    I'll be very surprised if he produces it again in this series. But if he has worked out a technique to keep him in the right frame of mind as much as anything, you never know.

    We can only hope really.

    Getting some swing changes him so much as a bowler, obviously gives him enormous confidence. And it is one of the best things to watch in cricket - a left-arm fast bowler bowling like that.

  • prabwal on December 19, 2010, 11:56 GMT

    One should never drop a match-winner.Sometimes, they may not perform at the best of their abilities, but when they do......

  • on December 19, 2010, 12:03 GMT

    Mitchell Johnson should not have been dropped in the first place but it seemingly did him good as he came back even harder.....england now have something to think about sets up the series nicely

  • on December 19, 2010, 12:09 GMT

    Mitchell Johnson has proved Ian Chappel wrong. Mr Chappel told the Aussie selectors to drop Johnson. Now Johnson has shut him up with his performance. The best thing for Chappel to do is to concentrate on his commentary and leave the other matters to the people concerned.

  • k.mithilesh on December 19, 2010, 12:34 GMT

    The Brian Lara of fast bowling. Left handed, magical on song, infuriatingly frustrating when his mind goes for a toss. Another roller coaster ride for cricket fans a la Brian's career.