Australia v England, 1st Test, Brisbane, 2nd day November 22, 2013

Enigma Johnson finds fiery best

Mitchell Johnson carried great expectations into the Gabba Test and found his best form in a brutal, and as always, unpredictable, display
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A full toss down the leg side is as bad a ball you can bowl in cricket. It is a ball so bad it is almost as if it was designed just so it could not get a wicket. It is how Mitchell Johnson started his day.

After three overs of few good balls, extra nervous paces in his run-up, and some shocking balls down the leg side, Johnson was off. The new ball was being wasted. The only ball that showed that a good day was possible was a very full one to Michael Carberry that swung late and beat him. But the seam told a story. Instead of being straight like Ryan Harris or James Anderson would present it, it was all over the place. The ball seemed to swing more because it felt sorry for Johnson rather than anything else.

The second spell only happened because of Harris' controlled probing of Alastair Cook. But as Jonathan Trott came in, Johnson was reborn. Again.

Australians don't see the IPL. So performances there don't count for much. Five wickets in one Shield match don't change much either. Australians often don't watch tours, especially one-day tours. And the Champions League is often, and easily, ignored.

But the talk of Johnson continued to grow. Of course, anyone can pick up a few IPL batsmen and scare them. Often a foreign quick is the first they've seen. And as a white-ball bowler, in Australia and otherwise, Johnson has often had series and years where he travels from ground to ground scaring the hell out of any poor batsmen who have to face him. It is not often like that in Tests.

He can talk up his form, Brett Lee can talk up his form, Allan Border can talk up his form, David Warner can talk up his form, and hell, even Sachin Tendulkar can talk up his form, but this is Test cricket. A form of cricket where Johnson has spread his absolute worst around many times. He would not be bowling to a skinny kid from Karnataka who has never seen a quick bowler before, or bowling with a white ball that swings if you get the seam roughly in the right place. This was the real deal, the place he had been and failed many times before.

The last time England were at the Gabba, Johnson was at his worst. And his worst is something that is almost special in its completeness. The ball turns into his enemy, his head almost retracts into his chest, and he has the perfect facial expression, which combines gormless confusion and utter despair. Zero for 170 and a dropped catch were what he gave.

The next Test he played after being dropped/rested, Johnson was Man of the Match.

"The television does not do any justice to the physicality of Johnson" is how Ed Cowan described what it is like to face him. It's not immediately obvious as he walks up to his mark what a brute he is.

A few good showings with the white ball weren't about to stop the Barmy Army but this time Johnson almost seemed to want it. He was talking about attacking throats and targeting batsmen.

Ryan Harris walks to his mark like a man about to pick up a truck and beat his enemy to death with it. Johnson has polite, eager, controlled steps, like an office worker who wants to go to the far sandwich shop to get his falafel wrap but is worried about how long it will take.

When finally at the top of his mark, Johnson's flick of the ball to himself is effete, coming out of the back of his wrist. It is not going to intimidate anyone.

Then it all changes when he comes in. The crouch and power-run-up start are much more intense, and the massive step and sling (which according to Cowan "takes an eternity for the ball to be launched towards you") is pretty intimidating. On a bad Mitch day, none of this is that big of a problem; on a good Mitch day, all of this plays into his force.

And his force looks increased. Maybe it's the masculine moustache, but his face looks tougher and his body looks stronger. He was never not well put together. Now he looks even bigger and more brutal. One journalist described his calves as practically exploding. And maybe he is wearing a tighter shirt these days, but even his veins seem to have muscles on them.

Moustache or not, at times he had a boy's face that made him look like a cuddly fast bowler that you could almost feel sorry for. Today he did not.

The spell that was supposed to be at Trott started with 12 straight balls at Carberry. At one stage, four out of five of them were bouncers. He also put a few down the leg side, perhaps to get Carberry off strike, but more likely he just had no control. A leg slip was brought in, but a second, finer, fine leg could have helped as well.

When he finally got to Trott, he was different. Cook and Carberry had played him without much trouble. With Trott he just assumed the batsman would struggle. Straightaway he slammed him on the gloves. Mitch stared at Trott in such an intense way; the old Mitch would have been afraid. Trott's defence was to hop across his stumps and scoop the ball away. It showed a fear and frailty in Trott that you almost never see.

Next over, Mitch bowled an innocuous ball down the leg side. Trott continued to jump to the off side, and this time got some bat behind to Haddin.

It was clearly a plan, and it was clearly intentional, but the actual plan was for Trott to receive a ball flying up at his ribs from around the wicket that he could not get out the way of, not just feather a ball he should not have been able to reach. In many ways, Mitch is master of the accident. He created the mistake, but had he bowled a better ball he probably wouldn't have got the wicket.

Fast bowlers have such a reputation that one admitting to getting counselling to get over ribbing from the crowd (even well-organised bullying) would usually seem out of place. But no one was surprised when Mitch said he got some counselling to overcome what the Barmy Army put him through. His frailties have never been hidden.

The Barmy Army were never going to let him off easy this time, and a few good showings with the white ball weren't about to stop them chanting their well-known rhyming verse.

This time he almost seemed to want it. He was talking about attacking throats and targeting batsmen - this from a man seemingly on the verge of tears at many times in his career. If he could not get England out, he was happy with putting them in hospital. He had even noted they had flown left-armers in to prepare for him. England, being the arch planners they are, would always do that. But he saw it as a personal victory. Another confidence boost for the new improved Mitch.

There is a theory that when Johnson bats well, he bowls well. It does occasionally happen. His only hundred was in a game where he took 4 for 148. And one of his 10-wicket hauls came when he scored a pair. So it is not science. But no one who has even casually glanced at Johnson would see him as anything other than a confidence player.

When he bowled to Carberry around the wicket, he looked like a completely different bowler to the one whom Carberry had blunted easily all day. The first ball crashed into Carberry; he jumped in anticipation as George Bailey scrambled for it. There was no bat on it, but it seemed to excite Johnson greatly. The next ball was a very quick bouncer, and produced a terrible attempted hook from Carberry. Next ball Carberry was out.

Root's wicket was just a standard full and wide Johnson ball; it could have happened on any day, even one of his bad days. Swann's wicket was granted by a guy who was thinking of short balls when he got a full one, and despite Johnson trying to decapitate Broad and Tremlett, he couldn't get the fifth wicket he obviously deserved.

At the end, Johnson had taken nearly half the wickets and gone for nearly half the runs. Johnson upset some batsmen, frightened others and roughed up almost all of them. He has been more brutal, on pitches just as lifeless, but he had not done it much when people had talked him up to this extent. He had never looked as brutal for so long. And he had almost never done it when people really expected him too.

Days like this do not forgive him for the many bad days, they just make him even more frustrating. Also exciting, as you know you're probably going to get something quite newsworthy from him, one way or another. There are few players who can win a Test so quickly. For either team.

Johnson might not win Australia another Test this series. He might not win them this one. He might get dropped before the end of it. He might never win Australia another Test. And this time next year he might have played his last-ever Test match. All of that is possible in the career of Mitchell Johnson. His future is as unpredictable as his next delivery.

Jarrod Kimber is 50% of the Two Chucks, and the mind responsible for cricketwithballs.com

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Mervo on November 22, 2013, 21:19 GMT

    If anyone has been watching Johnson over the last year they would have seen this. He has not been in Test cricket but with his remodelled action he is both faster and quite accurate. This has all been in First Class cricket and in ODI. His form has been excellent for some time now, but was not chosen and was left out for lesser players. He is an all rounder also and remains our fastest bowler, despite the media gloss over some younger players. Finally, he has that 'X" Factor that some players just have. He should have always been in our national team.

  • BigINDFan on November 22, 2013, 20:37 GMT

    Mitch needs to ignore all the attention and focus on something he is good at - send the ball down the pitch at terrifying pace. If short pitched bowls is where he is consistent keep at it, do not try yorker or swing or cutters. That is where he loses his rhythm. Leave that to Harris and Siddle. At Mitch's pace he does not need variation just keep at it ball after ball. He will get wickets or at least set it up for the bowler on the other end. McGrath should have a few sessions with Mitch to improve his consistency and he will be a match winner for Aus in Tests. He is not a short format bowler like Malinga, he is a test player. It so happens that he is successful in the short format becoz he has few balls to deliver which means fewer mistakes :-) Lot of fast bowlers will envy him for his pace but he needs to get consistent - so keep pitching it short or short of a length pure and simple.

  • gandabhai on November 24, 2013, 22:09 GMT

    WELL DONE MJ .You got your groove back in the IPL .Dont forget that.

  • Lizzyp on November 24, 2013, 6:45 GMT

    But @Mervo, if MJ had been in your national team all the time, he wouldn't have the opportunity to remodel his action. Sometimes, players have to go back to county/state cricket to sort stuff out. If that means they are not selected for the national team, then so be it.

  • Biso on November 23, 2013, 16:34 GMT

    MJ was tough for the England OD team to handle immediately after the last ashes. Never mind a few of the test players had rest then. MJ has picked up more consistent pace and rhythm since then. During the recent ODI's between India and Australia MJ bowled fast but was promptly pulled out of the ground for fours or even sixes by Dhawan, Rohit,, Virat and Dhoni. And MJ bowls at a pace which does not need helpful pitches. However, the so called players of fast bowling from England have been found wanting both in courage and skills. Only KP stands between a MJ and Harris running all over England. Off course this is subject to the other MJ( the erratic frustrating one ) not turning up during the series and Harris keeping his fitness intact. Captain Cook will try honest hard working knocks and Bell might be a bit stubborn. All said, only, KP can prevent a clean sweep. We might soon see England back to their true colours. Hoping Clark's knock has put more belief in Aussie batters.

  • analyseabhishek on November 23, 2013, 16:14 GMT

    It was clear in this year's IPL- if you are hustling all kind of batsmen in a T20 tourney being played on slower tracks, then you obviously have a few things going for you! I saw the Carberry dismissal and the batsman was simply terrorized into giving away his wicket. This is something that doesnt happen very often!

  • Clavers on November 23, 2013, 9:27 GMT

    To my dear friends in the Johnson Knocker Society,

    Re Johnson's performance on Day One: I told you so.

    Re Johnson's performance on Day Two: I told you so.

    Re Johnson's performance of Day 3: I told you so.

    Three days into the series Johnson has a series bowling average of 14.2 and a series batting average of 103. And his career test bowling average is now better than Brett Lee's.

  • milepost on November 23, 2013, 8:35 GMT

    @Lunge I will grant you England didn't have ideal preparation but I think credit for that must go to CA as well. We did say fielding poor teams on placid pitches would favour Australia. The question here is how do England now get good preparation? On current form they may well be out if the series by Perth. But, as we know cricket is a funny game.

  • BradmanBestEver on November 23, 2013, 7:57 GMT

    Well I eat my hat. I was one of the MJ critics who wrote him off. Just goes to show that history is not always a got predictor of the future and I am a poor judge of cricketers!

    Well done Jonno - I have my fingers and toes crossed that you can maintain consistency over this series mate. Most important you have made it cler that the Poms do not like it up em!

  • humdrum on November 23, 2013, 5:03 GMT

    While Aus have produced the horse for the course, Eng look like they want to be anywhere but here,with precious little to cheer in the batting dept and hardly any incisive bowling bar Broad.The batting line up,whose fragilities were exposed in England( Aus lost as they fared even worse in batting ) looked out of depth against liquid pace and hostility. In fact, the batsmen looked like rabbits caught in floodlights.The second episode of Mitch v Eng will set the tone for the rest of the series. Any predictions made by Eng fans and media now appear positively embarrassing.

  • Mervo on November 22, 2013, 21:19 GMT

    If anyone has been watching Johnson over the last year they would have seen this. He has not been in Test cricket but with his remodelled action he is both faster and quite accurate. This has all been in First Class cricket and in ODI. His form has been excellent for some time now, but was not chosen and was left out for lesser players. He is an all rounder also and remains our fastest bowler, despite the media gloss over some younger players. Finally, he has that 'X" Factor that some players just have. He should have always been in our national team.

  • BigINDFan on November 22, 2013, 20:37 GMT

    Mitch needs to ignore all the attention and focus on something he is good at - send the ball down the pitch at terrifying pace. If short pitched bowls is where he is consistent keep at it, do not try yorker or swing or cutters. That is where he loses his rhythm. Leave that to Harris and Siddle. At Mitch's pace he does not need variation just keep at it ball after ball. He will get wickets or at least set it up for the bowler on the other end. McGrath should have a few sessions with Mitch to improve his consistency and he will be a match winner for Aus in Tests. He is not a short format bowler like Malinga, he is a test player. It so happens that he is successful in the short format becoz he has few balls to deliver which means fewer mistakes :-) Lot of fast bowlers will envy him for his pace but he needs to get consistent - so keep pitching it short or short of a length pure and simple.

  • gandabhai on November 24, 2013, 22:09 GMT

    WELL DONE MJ .You got your groove back in the IPL .Dont forget that.

  • Lizzyp on November 24, 2013, 6:45 GMT

    But @Mervo, if MJ had been in your national team all the time, he wouldn't have the opportunity to remodel his action. Sometimes, players have to go back to county/state cricket to sort stuff out. If that means they are not selected for the national team, then so be it.

  • Biso on November 23, 2013, 16:34 GMT

    MJ was tough for the England OD team to handle immediately after the last ashes. Never mind a few of the test players had rest then. MJ has picked up more consistent pace and rhythm since then. During the recent ODI's between India and Australia MJ bowled fast but was promptly pulled out of the ground for fours or even sixes by Dhawan, Rohit,, Virat and Dhoni. And MJ bowls at a pace which does not need helpful pitches. However, the so called players of fast bowling from England have been found wanting both in courage and skills. Only KP stands between a MJ and Harris running all over England. Off course this is subject to the other MJ( the erratic frustrating one ) not turning up during the series and Harris keeping his fitness intact. Captain Cook will try honest hard working knocks and Bell might be a bit stubborn. All said, only, KP can prevent a clean sweep. We might soon see England back to their true colours. Hoping Clark's knock has put more belief in Aussie batters.

  • analyseabhishek on November 23, 2013, 16:14 GMT

    It was clear in this year's IPL- if you are hustling all kind of batsmen in a T20 tourney being played on slower tracks, then you obviously have a few things going for you! I saw the Carberry dismissal and the batsman was simply terrorized into giving away his wicket. This is something that doesnt happen very often!

  • Clavers on November 23, 2013, 9:27 GMT

    To my dear friends in the Johnson Knocker Society,

    Re Johnson's performance on Day One: I told you so.

    Re Johnson's performance on Day Two: I told you so.

    Re Johnson's performance of Day 3: I told you so.

    Three days into the series Johnson has a series bowling average of 14.2 and a series batting average of 103. And his career test bowling average is now better than Brett Lee's.

  • milepost on November 23, 2013, 8:35 GMT

    @Lunge I will grant you England didn't have ideal preparation but I think credit for that must go to CA as well. We did say fielding poor teams on placid pitches would favour Australia. The question here is how do England now get good preparation? On current form they may well be out if the series by Perth. But, as we know cricket is a funny game.

  • BradmanBestEver on November 23, 2013, 7:57 GMT

    Well I eat my hat. I was one of the MJ critics who wrote him off. Just goes to show that history is not always a got predictor of the future and I am a poor judge of cricketers!

    Well done Jonno - I have my fingers and toes crossed that you can maintain consistency over this series mate. Most important you have made it cler that the Poms do not like it up em!

  • humdrum on November 23, 2013, 5:03 GMT

    While Aus have produced the horse for the course, Eng look like they want to be anywhere but here,with precious little to cheer in the batting dept and hardly any incisive bowling bar Broad.The batting line up,whose fragilities were exposed in England( Aus lost as they fared even worse in batting ) looked out of depth against liquid pace and hostility. In fact, the batsmen looked like rabbits caught in floodlights.The second episode of Mitch v Eng will set the tone for the rest of the series. Any predictions made by Eng fans and media now appear positively embarrassing.

  • adminhp on November 23, 2013, 3:53 GMT

    This game is much more exciting that the high scoring games happening in dust bowls. Who said low scoring games are not exciting, true balance between bat and ball defines good cricket. Excellent performance Mitchell Johnson. Great responsibility while batting and then backing it with an excellent spell. Being an Indian fan, I am wondering when would we see such performances from our tail who throw their wickets away. Go Australia!

  • I_Love_My_India on November 23, 2013, 3:25 GMT

    A Mitch fan from India. I must say, the whole IPL matches for Mumbai Indians I watched just because of him....

    I would say, he was just ordinary yesterday. It was the English batsmen who were extra ordinarily poor. I wish to see an India Vs Australia test in Australia.

  • GRVJPR on November 23, 2013, 2:38 GMT

    Johnson is juts an ordinary bowler, but the way england couldn't handle short pitch bowling on flattest boring track ever shows how ordinary a team england is.

  • Bonehead_maz on November 23, 2013, 1:17 GMT

    Johnson actually bowled pretty poorly and comparatively slowly yesterday (on a slow pitch that has people playing early). Yet he followed the length directives near perfectly to each batsman. It's great to see some South African's on these threads....... I was pretty sure you'd understand ;). Only England is yet to fill their hospitals with "bowling to left and right" victims. Not sure if he keeps hitting top hands it won't happen really soon.

  • on November 22, 2013, 22:33 GMT

    Mitch is just Mitch, he does what he does, how would you be, plucked from country cricket and tossed into the front line as he did as an unknown, yes he has his moments good and bad, but gee whizz, i'd have him in my side rather than not

  • on November 22, 2013, 22:12 GMT

    Johnson's time in the magic cave has been very useful!

  • gimme-a-greentop on November 22, 2013, 22:10 GMT

    @Front-Foot-Lunge.. The last time the 'famous for starting their batting slowly" SA were in your backyard they scored 600 odd for 2 in their first innings of the series. England were just outplayed in this innings.

  • CricFanKrish on November 22, 2013, 21:52 GMT

    I do agree that Johnson has been wayward in the past. However, I really want him to do well for Australia. He is one of the no-nonsense guys who doesn't talk unnecessarily. I think he's not believed in himself as much as he has started doing now. Go Mitch go! Prove all the nay-sayers wrong! Rip England apart for the rest of the series and help Australia regain the Ashes!

  • on November 22, 2013, 21:46 GMT

    @ cricketfreak: Kimber is an Englishman..he can't shower praise on an Australian without criticism and bitterness because its hard for him to digest. He wants to use his pen to slight insult and undermine the confidence of the Aussies...a reflection of his flawed patriot spirit.

  • SyedAreYouDumb on November 22, 2013, 21:15 GMT

    The way he changed to around the wicket with his pace i doubt any world-class batsmen could do much. That thinking from Johnson to go around the wicket is absolutely devastating!

  • Nutcutlet on November 22, 2013, 20:58 GMT

    Maybe the day was Mitch's day & we won't see another for a while. But just may be, by the end of the series, he'll be up there with the Ashes' greats -- all past eccentricities forgiven if not quite forgotten. Not every pitch will suit him so well as this one, but Perth, by reputation, will doubtless give him every encouragement. England never play their best cricket until the first Test is done. Mitch & that great trooper, Ryan Harris, have done their bit catching England cold here. Flower & Cook will have to have a good think about personnel & strategy for Adelaide, but Oz, on this showing, have no adjustments to make. That will make a refreshing change!

  • on November 22, 2013, 20:37 GMT

    England batsmen problem is simply that the haven't been to the magic cave! Trott, Carberry, Cook and Root all have technical flaws that were always going to be exploited on this tour - if you think 130 is bad wait till they get to Perth.

  • Vilander on November 22, 2013, 18:59 GMT

    i think this is it he has turned around..

  • glance_to_leg on November 22, 2013, 18:20 GMT

    Good for Mitch Johnson. I have never much liked either his image (all those childish tats in an attempt to look tough), or his ugly action, but he has pace, physicality and aggression (all that you want in a quick), and it is good to see his fragile personality overcome his tendency to collapse under pressure. Batted beautifully in the first innings, and now bowls his heart out. He has also deflated a smug England (who embarrass me as an England supporter). Well done. let's hope this opens up a great test series.

  • 2.14istherunrate on November 22, 2013, 18:08 GMT

    Johnson has one of the fastest sprint run ups I have seen. He was like the wind. That was a horror ball to Carberry. I agree with the sentiment though that Lyon was responsiblel for ripping out the heart. His bounce was tricky. There was hope while Bell was in. England can draw this game with application and clarity. Anything less will not do though.

  • keecha on November 22, 2013, 17:29 GMT

    Well, one such 'skinny kid from Karnataka' turned out to be the one that bowlers all over the world feared running into - The Wall.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on November 22, 2013, 16:41 GMT

    Johnson's best best bowling was against Carberry, who was in good nick and eventually England's rest threw their wicket away due to lack of any form of preparation ofr the series. As we've seen before, even the best teams in the world start their batting slowly in a series, South Africa are famous for it. The trouble for England fans is that England do this a lot too, and are often winning series' after getting themselves behind at the start of one. Johnson's been hit and miss his entire career, congratulations to him for finally getting it right today.

  • on November 22, 2013, 16:40 GMT

    "Fast bowlers have such a reputation that one admitting to getting counseling to get over ribbing from the crowd (even well-organized bullying) would usually seem out of place." Why is it that if Australian crowds behave badly they get loudly criticised world wide, but England can carry around a load of abusive supporters wherever they please all in the name of "all a bit of light hearted fun" - like hell - its organised intimidation and the icc need to do something abut it. England wont. Theyre benefitting from it.

  • cricket-freak on November 22, 2013, 16:35 GMT

    Why can't people praise or support him without some bitter remarks & criticism!Its better if we try to boast his morale & give him confidence that he can win games for his country because he CAN.

  • stormy16 on November 22, 2013, 16:07 GMT

    I really hope this is the final cut and comeback of Johnson. We all know he can be a genuine match winner with both and bat and ball in all forms of cricket but just lost the plot for a long time. I was surprised when Eng preferred unknown pace bowlers to Johnson but as fate would have it, injuries have given him a chance. What he has done with bat and bowl is exactly what he can be and would be interesting to see if Mitch can deliver consistently of is this is another flash in the pan.

  • on November 22, 2013, 16:06 GMT

    At last the OZ fans have something to cheer when the right Mitchell Johnson turns up. It was a fiery spell with no histrionics. Always the sub continental players were dubbed the ones that cant face short & fast balls. I did not see one English cricketer that could counter a short ball.

  • fifth_innings on November 22, 2013, 15:55 GMT

    Alas the good old days of pure fast bowling. Just last week i watched the recap of SRT's WACA century against the likes of McDermott and others. This was a good exhibition albeit an inconsistent show of fast short pitch bowling. And also reveals the weakness of batsmen all over the world against short pitch stuff. I wonder if the one bouncer per over rule in ODI's and T-20's has eroded the skill set of these batsmen.

  • Speng on November 22, 2013, 15:26 GMT

    Raw pace, swing, and that action are going to get wickets and get thrashed by batsmen too it's the risk you take with bowlers like Mitch but as long he has heart and focus it'll be worth Australia's while to pick him. From what I was saw in the Champions Trophy he should've been picked for the summer Ashes in England but maybe the selectors didn't want to expose him on his comeback to the Barmy Army but I reckon he'll do just fine in this tour.

  • on November 22, 2013, 14:16 GMT

    No better sight in Cricket than a fast bowler making the batsman hop, jump or duck :)

  • insightfulcricketer on November 22, 2013, 14:04 GMT

    I saw in Mumbai - the fans really egged him on.They did not care if he went for runs they just yelled his name at every step.You could see the fire growing within him with every delivery. I am totally convinced that has re-awakened his fire to bowl fast and furious. He is not a man to be bothered (and should not be) for bowling in the " right" areas.He needs to put terror in between the ears of batsmen and let the others be good enough to nibble the batsman off.

    Aussie fans should honestly realize except him the cupboard is rather bare except those perpetually in the medical room.Give him a longer rope than others and he will win you games sometime from totally hopeless situation that good he is.

  • srikanths on November 22, 2013, 13:42 GMT

    You are rught , AUS dont see IPL. People like us who saw IPL , were clear that Johnson was back to his dangerous best, He continued to do that in ODI s. IPL may not be test standard but the standard is resonably good. He was a go to man for Mumbai Indians, in fact one of the reasons MI won IPL was his penetrative bowling. For all the criticism of IPL, I have seen atleast in a few cases that the players have almost realised their own potential after a stint. Shane Watson's batting , atleast for sometime was after a successfil IPL stint . It was quite a delight to see Johnson bowl with the kind of sustained pace that he generated. Average was 140 plus comfortably and the Poms were hopping about. One is happy to see the OZ team fighting back. Even the last Ashes, it was OZ Batting which badly faild them not so much their bowling. Harris was top class in England and if he does not breakdown, the bowling could be as dangerous as the OZ of 90 s excpt spin, bath is a prblm

  • Mad_Hamish on November 22, 2013, 13:29 GMT

    @nzcricket174 in the match in Perth Mitch took 8-61 in the first innings and then 3-98 in the second. The problem was that Lee took 1-73, Siddle 0-84, Krezja 0-102 and Clarke 0-35.

  • nareshgb1 on November 22, 2013, 13:08 GMT

    "like an office worker who wants to go to the far sandwich shop to get his falafel wrap, but is worried about how long it will take"

    LOL - nicely put. In gneral I do not support Aussies and did not like Johnson (by default). After he began to sc--w up badly, I used to enjoy it a lot.

    But over the last year, I have developed a liking for him. I dont like IPL (save when a couple of guys are batting) but maybe MJ turning up for MI had something to do with my support for him. He did rather well for them - but IPL is IPL as you say,

    I was sorry when that first full toss went down leg - but you never know when the other Mitch shows up - and he has injured more good batsman than any other bowler when in that zone.

  • on November 22, 2013, 13:02 GMT

    Pakistan's Wahab Riaz is just like him.

  • nzcricket174 on November 22, 2013, 12:22 GMT

    I remember Mitch got 8-for in a first innings go at Perth vs RSA, then RSA chased down 400. Let's see how he goes in the 2nd innings before we make our final assessments.

  • linguboy on November 22, 2013, 12:22 GMT

    @sray23: Scaring the heck out of Indian batsmen????? Can you name one player playing right now in the world not scared of facing fiery fast bowlers??? Australia's best batsman can't play bouncers!!!!what the hell!!!!! Even Kallis struggled against Sreesanth last time and none of the Englishmen can do better. then what are you scribbling about???? How many tests did SA played last time they visited India??? I think according to you it must be 10 tests right. Are they afraid of playing spin???? How many tests did Australia win in India in the last 10 years?????I didn't see you raising you these questions to the Australian or SA friends here, do you???? Why not??? don't they need to prove themselves here???? Last time we drew 1-1 in SA then why the heck should we afraid???And before you say its past then i will also remind you that 8-0 loss is also a thing of past. You are obsessed with western fancy andyou will never change do you??

  • on November 22, 2013, 12:22 GMT

    while bagging johnsons career why not compare his stats with james anderson both test and odi,it makes for very interesting reading.it is at worse the equal if not better with his lower strike rate of anderson which i guess means both are pretty ordinary players

  • Biso on November 22, 2013, 12:12 GMT

    Johnson has been bowling fast for the last many months. In IPL one eve, on a fast and bouncy Jaipur pitch( on that day) he suddenly looked different. I distinctly remember one delivery that reared up and flew over the wicket keeper for 4 byes.Moreover, he was more consistent all through the last ODI series between Australia and India. Whereas Raina and Yuvi hopped- Rohit, Virat and Dhawan faced him well and in fact scored well of his fast short balls. The point , certainly was that Johnson looked clearly ready for the ashes and worth a risk into the playing 11. The selectors were definitely watching and based on his performance on the sub continent pitches (in adverse bowling conditions given the new ODI rules) they have taken the risk of getting him back in the side. Johnson will continue to be prone to erratic spells given the nature of his action. But, when he bowls on consistent lines and gets it to move into the right hander's, only KP and maybe Bell have the skills to negotiate.

  • disco_bob on November 22, 2013, 12:11 GMT

    You can tell how well balanced our attack is because we have not even needed to think about Watto bowling, due to there not being any partnerships to break.

  • gimme-a-greentop on November 22, 2013, 11:54 GMT

    Well, to me as a neutral it is great to see a genuinely hostile fast bowler firing on all cylinders. That was as aggressive in intent and application as his legendary spell at Kingsmead that put Smith and Kallis in hospital. Maybe not as destructive in the result but right up there in the aggression. England fans have never really seen Johnson bowl like this, so I'm glad it's not just SA to be on the receiving end. Its true what some have said here about people only noticing his pace now, he has been bowling quickly and with purpose for a good while now, just had an ODI or T20 platfrom. Whatever his unpredictability, us SA cricket fans will always remeber him for some of the most demon displays (with bat and ball) against us since re-admission. That's in the past, but something tells me he has got his confidence back and will be more consistant from now on.

  • on November 22, 2013, 11:50 GMT

    Looks like there is huge Anti - Johnson bias with Australian writers. I have not followed previous ashes very keenly. But in the recent India- Aus ODI series he was delivering some furious spells. True, he might have been inconsistent in his past. But I believe those days are over. Dare I say, If Aussies are going to win this ashes Johnson could be the main reason. I think he is in form and there is no looking back.

  • linguboy on November 22, 2013, 11:45 GMT

    @sray23: Yeah we are afraid of facing fast bowling!!!Yeah that's why we decided to play 13 overseas tests on the trot. Even if we lose we don't put down a format to elevate the other. We see Fast bowling as the same art as Spin bowling. We don't whinge about green tops and say that they are not standard pitches like others do of spin friendly surfaces. Ofcourse we don't care about World cup 2011 because its played in India. We don't care about Champions Trophy 2013 because England prepared dustbowls. We don't care about IPL because its not been played by big gym build WWE wrestlers but just played by some skinny Karnataka kids.And yeah we would support what Australians and Englishmen say about cricket and pitches. And what not if we don't win World cup 2015 in Australia our name will be erased from worldcup winning history because we didn't win it in the pitches these experts say. Finally if we don't win T20 2015 in Ban they woud say we can't play in flat tracks. What a world we live!!

  • grizzle on November 22, 2013, 11:44 GMT

    Spot on sray23.

    Also InsideHedge, that Indian tour was indeed a waste (though possibly not for the coffers as you say): Johnson, Bailey, Faulkner and others would have done better to play the Australian domestic tournament instead.

  • sailorsupreme on November 22, 2013, 11:36 GMT

    Mitchell is bowling fast, upwards of 150kmph. India's Umesh Yadav is close to 150kmph. The new kid Shami is about 145kmph at his fastest. So it is not as if the skinny kid from karnataka is not used to fast bowlers in India. Not so long ago CA had to scoot Mitchell out of Indian ODI encounters because he was being mauled by the likes of Rohit, Dhawan, Kohli and dhoni. Yes, he was able to scare Raina and Yuvraj but never got to bowl to the lower order as they were never needed to bat. Let Mitchell scare these Pommies who are at best good craftsmen and KP is hugely over rated by the British and SA media. This test should be over in the fourth day, so don't laugh when India rolls over WI in 3 days, in India. Don't make the mistake of anointing him the most hostile pacemen, he will meet his match when the young turks from India deflate him after they've dealt with Steyn and Morkel in South Africa.

  • Front-Foot-Sponge on November 22, 2013, 11:27 GMT

    I don't think this is a very accurate assessment of Mitch in this article. 4 wickets, roughing them up, hitting the players. I mean these were professional cricketers who were terrified, truly scared of facing him, all wishing they were at home in England. You could see it in their faces. And rightly so as they had neither the temperament or the technique to deal with it. Who does want to face 90+ mph chin music? We knew this was a superb bowling attack and they showed it.

  • Shaggy076 on November 22, 2013, 11:27 GMT

    Im a Johnson fan and always have been, I dont think he was quite at his best today but he was intimidating. His figures are pretty good but there was some loose shots. Not sure he had the control of his pitched up balls today. He intimidated the English out but dont think they will let him do that every innings so we need him to get the full kit bag back.

  • wanatawu on November 22, 2013, 11:12 GMT

    I can still remember Johnson taking nine wicket in the 1st test vs South Africa and remember at that time he was even more devastating than today and remember SA won that game scoring more 400+ to win that game with only like 4 wickets down.So what I am trying to say is that England must not feel discourage if they if they can limit them to score or around 400 they can still win this and I can bet you MJ will not be as scary in the 2nd inning. Good luck.

  • Ozcricketwriter on November 22, 2013, 11:03 GMT

    The key for Australia is that they had the appropriate balance to the team. They didn't play 4 erratic power houses who can each bowl 4 over spells. Instead, they had 2 who can bowl forever (Siddle and Harris) and 1 who can blast things in 4 over spells (Johnson). I would have liked to have seen Faulkner here too, as he too can bowl forever, much like Siddle and Harris in that regards. That would have opened the door for Watson to bowl short and sharp spells much like Johnson did. This is what has been missing from Australian bowling attacks in recent years - balance. It is not about talent at all. On talent, Australia right now has the best fast bowlers in world cricket. The problem is balance. This time, finally, the selectors got it close to right. I still would have had Faulkner in the team though. Probably at the expense of Bailey.

  • bluebillion on November 22, 2013, 10:55 GMT

    All the people and pundits who were slagging off Australia for preparing for the Ashes with an ODI tour to India must be eating humble pie right now. That tour discovered the new Johnson for the Aussies!

  • keithmillersmesserschmitt on November 22, 2013, 10:54 GMT

    Honestly, Jarrod, this is a terrible article. When people like AB and Lillee talk this guy up, maybe they know something. And then there's his record---the guy you're portraying would not have 209 wickets @ 30 with a strike rate of 54. He's a very good player, especially when you consider the contributions he can sometimes make with the bat (in that sense he's a bit like Broad). Not Lillee or McGrath, but up there at the level of Gillespie or Lee. The English have an excuse---they happened to see Johnson at his worst in England (which still was not as bad as Gillespie's last Ashes series). Very disappointed.

  • on November 22, 2013, 10:49 GMT

    Suddenly there is talk of India, the IPL, the one dayers here and the champions trophy.. The trouble is australian cricket fans and may I add writers are too obsessed with their own backyard. Johnson has been bowling fast and straight for some time now and whether the author noticed or not, batsmen all over the world have been noticing it, not least of all Sachin Tendulkar for whose team Mitchell johnson played in the last IPL .In fact the australian selectors were dumb to recall him for the seventh one dayer and India easily won the decider. I dont agree with the author "s views on Johnson"s future. He will play and do well and will continue to have a great impact on the development of the australian team. Imagine an attack with Cummins, Pattinson and Mitch !! Ramanujam sridhar

  • CapitalMarkets on November 22, 2013, 10:43 GMT

    Johnson's all-round contribution to this match in rescuing Australia with the bat and then putting them in a commanding position with the ball has been the stuff which wins matches. More importantly, he has given Australia a pshychological lift, a belief that they can win. It is a great pity that Harris has only a couple of years left because they could be a dominant force with the ball. I still think that Johnson's action is less reliable than Harris' but he's a yard quicker as well and on a quick pitch that means he's potentially more dangerous, because of the ability to mix up the batsmen. Good bowlers manage to get wickets with bad balls and although I don't think Johnson's quite up there with Sir Ian Botham, they both have this ability. I'm delighted he's overcome his internal and external issues and now it is England's turn to bat last with their backs to the wall. It makes for an absorbing contest because we will find out whether England still know how to be difficult to beat.

  • sray23 on November 22, 2013, 10:43 GMT

    @InsideHedge, quit being so sensitive. I am Indian and have absolutely no problem with quick bowlers scaring the heck out of Indian batsmen - in most cases it's actually true! Let India win a series in Aus or SA to disprove that. Of course SA will be difficult with only 2 tests there this time. You never know, everyone is thinking it's petty BCCI politics, but actually it could be because of the very theme of this article - Indian batsmen being scared of real pace in SA wishing to limit their damage to only 2 tests instead of 3-4!

  • Yevghenny on November 22, 2013, 10:41 GMT

    fair play to Johnson, England fans gave him plenty of stick and he's shown a hell of a lot of character to come back and put in a performance like this

  • reversesweep on November 22, 2013, 10:24 GMT

    The begrudging, distasteful tone of this article clearly indicates that you're gagging on your "expert" pre-match predictions. Fact is, that in spite of the considerable pressure, Mitch performed menacingly well today. And that comes on top of an extremely handy, free-flowing half century yesterday, so why don't you just swallow your pride and enjoy the cricket.

  • ultrasnow on November 22, 2013, 10:19 GMT

    correction my earlier post should have read 'had Mitch stayed back for the 7th and last ODI'

  • on November 22, 2013, 10:19 GMT

    Great article, really captures the Mitchell Johnson we love (and sometimes loathe). The wonderful thing when he does get it right is that he is both breathtaking and frightening in his brutality. Fantastic to see a bowler serve it up to the batsman for a change. It is too much a batsman's game these days.

  • Witty_Cricketer on November 22, 2013, 10:12 GMT

    Jarrod, I really do like your pieces but I am afraid your criticism of both Mitchell and Watson are bit over the top. They are definitely not as good as they are made out to be by some media pundits, but they are not as bad as you portray them.

  • on November 22, 2013, 10:11 GMT

    Beautifully written!! Our own Dale Steyn is without doubt the best quick in the world but,,,if I had to choose which one I'd rather face, it will be Steyn everytime___when this man is on fire, he is scary and brutal, breaking hands and limbs with regularity!

  • InsideHedge on November 22, 2013, 10:02 GMT

    Is it possible for you "write" without attacking Indian cricket esp IPL? But really, that ODI tour to India wasn't such a waste of time was it? I said then that it may be "a useless tour" for the haters but it sure wasn't for the coffers or for Johnson, Bailey, Faulkner and Finch.

    Johnson was outstanding right thru the ODI series and had he been available for the deciding 7th game, Australia may well have won what was a close encounter. I don't recall seeing any skinny kid from Karnataka in the Indian batting lineup but Johnson shone brightly in the series.

    BTW, I do remember seeing a skinny one from Mumbai play at a Test in Karachi back in 1989, he was still playing some 24 years later.

  • smudgeon on November 22, 2013, 10:00 GMT

    I've always said: when he's at his best, he's unplayable; when he's at his worst, he's unplayable. Up until the Sri Lanka series a couple of years ago, I was a huge defender of his, but it got the point where I was just embarrassing myself trying. So, I decided to take down the posters and move on. The way he bowled today hasn't won me back, but I think if he didn't see me standing next to him in a queue, I wouldn't be surprised if I gave him a quick hug. Damn you, Mitchell Johnson.

  • ultrasnow on November 22, 2013, 9:57 GMT

    Indian fan here and really want Australia t back to their winning best. Among the english players I only like KP. Look at Broad, that kid really needs lessons in humility and how to make friends. A Kevin Petiersen masterclass and an Australian win would be the ideal combination right through this series. Really happy for Mitch - he bowled so well in India and maybe had he stayed back the 5th ODI story would have been different...

  • ultrasnow on November 22, 2013, 9:57 GMT

    Indian fan here and really want Australia t back to their winning best. Among the english players I only like KP. Look at Broad, that kid really needs lessons in humility and how to make friends. A Kevin Petiersen masterclass and an Australian win would be the ideal combination right through this series. Really happy for Mitch - he bowled so well in India and maybe had he stayed back the 5th ODI story would have been different...

  • smudgeon on November 22, 2013, 10:00 GMT

    I've always said: when he's at his best, he's unplayable; when he's at his worst, he's unplayable. Up until the Sri Lanka series a couple of years ago, I was a huge defender of his, but it got the point where I was just embarrassing myself trying. So, I decided to take down the posters and move on. The way he bowled today hasn't won me back, but I think if he didn't see me standing next to him in a queue, I wouldn't be surprised if I gave him a quick hug. Damn you, Mitchell Johnson.

  • InsideHedge on November 22, 2013, 10:02 GMT

    Is it possible for you "write" without attacking Indian cricket esp IPL? But really, that ODI tour to India wasn't such a waste of time was it? I said then that it may be "a useless tour" for the haters but it sure wasn't for the coffers or for Johnson, Bailey, Faulkner and Finch.

    Johnson was outstanding right thru the ODI series and had he been available for the deciding 7th game, Australia may well have won what was a close encounter. I don't recall seeing any skinny kid from Karnataka in the Indian batting lineup but Johnson shone brightly in the series.

    BTW, I do remember seeing a skinny one from Mumbai play at a Test in Karachi back in 1989, he was still playing some 24 years later.

  • on November 22, 2013, 10:11 GMT

    Beautifully written!! Our own Dale Steyn is without doubt the best quick in the world but,,,if I had to choose which one I'd rather face, it will be Steyn everytime___when this man is on fire, he is scary and brutal, breaking hands and limbs with regularity!

  • Witty_Cricketer on November 22, 2013, 10:12 GMT

    Jarrod, I really do like your pieces but I am afraid your criticism of both Mitchell and Watson are bit over the top. They are definitely not as good as they are made out to be by some media pundits, but they are not as bad as you portray them.

  • on November 22, 2013, 10:19 GMT

    Great article, really captures the Mitchell Johnson we love (and sometimes loathe). The wonderful thing when he does get it right is that he is both breathtaking and frightening in his brutality. Fantastic to see a bowler serve it up to the batsman for a change. It is too much a batsman's game these days.

  • ultrasnow on November 22, 2013, 10:19 GMT

    correction my earlier post should have read 'had Mitch stayed back for the 7th and last ODI'

  • reversesweep on November 22, 2013, 10:24 GMT

    The begrudging, distasteful tone of this article clearly indicates that you're gagging on your "expert" pre-match predictions. Fact is, that in spite of the considerable pressure, Mitch performed menacingly well today. And that comes on top of an extremely handy, free-flowing half century yesterday, so why don't you just swallow your pride and enjoy the cricket.

  • Yevghenny on November 22, 2013, 10:41 GMT

    fair play to Johnson, England fans gave him plenty of stick and he's shown a hell of a lot of character to come back and put in a performance like this

  • sray23 on November 22, 2013, 10:43 GMT

    @InsideHedge, quit being so sensitive. I am Indian and have absolutely no problem with quick bowlers scaring the heck out of Indian batsmen - in most cases it's actually true! Let India win a series in Aus or SA to disprove that. Of course SA will be difficult with only 2 tests there this time. You never know, everyone is thinking it's petty BCCI politics, but actually it could be because of the very theme of this article - Indian batsmen being scared of real pace in SA wishing to limit their damage to only 2 tests instead of 3-4!