Australia v England, 2nd Test, Adelaide, 3rd day December 7, 2013

Johnson joins pace pantheon

With a spell for the ages, Mitchell Johnson appears to have discovered how to harness his formidable gifts
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It has taken Australia six years, three coaches, three bowling coaches, two selection panels, two captains and 50 Test matches to work out how best to use Mitchell Johnson. It has taken Johnson almost as long to decide how to get the best out of himself.

At various times the experiment has looked like it would be abandoned for good, either by the selectors or Johnson himself. Yet in the space of a single terrifying spell in Adelaide, all those false hopes and dead ends came to mean something. Johnson is winning the Ashes for his country in the most spectacular fashion imaginable, joining the ranks of those rare fast men his mentor Dennis Lillee had long promised he would.

On a day pivotal to the outcome of the series, Johnson found frightening life where other pace bowlers could locate only blood, toil, tears and sweat. To watch terrifying fast bowling is one thing. To watch it on a flat pitch where no other bowler has been able to generate anything like the same sense of danger is quite another.

Plenty of pacemen have succeeded when the going is fast, the bounce and carry providing ample encouragement, and even through the development of a pack mentality. But spells of the kind conjured by Johnson are rare enough to be summed up in the space of a single paragraph.

Since Michael Holding's 14 wickets at The Oval in 1976, the archetype of such performances, only a few others have inspired similar awe. Jeff Thomson's at Kensington Oval in 1978 is still spoken of in hushed tones on Barbados. Malcolm Marshall's at the SCG on a 1989 pitch that reaped 11 wickets for the spin of Allan Border epitomised his skiddy greatness. Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis seemed to bowl on a different strip from everyone else at The Oval in 1992. And Dale Steyn defied the MCG drop-in for 10 wickets in 2008 as Australia's crown slipped.

For a long time it has been laughable to mention Johnson alongside names such as these. The inconsistency of his method, the fragility of his mindset and the changeable nature of his use by Australia have all contributed to the view that he is a proposition as risky for team-mates as opponents. As recently as the earlier Ashes series in England, the selectors preferred the younger Mitchell Starc as a more reliable option.

Johnson worked to exploit a breach made by Siddle, Lyon and Watson and the manner in which he did so was definitive, creating a thunderous atmosphere seldom easy to stir up in Adelaide

But even before that decision, Australia and Johnson were forced to weigh up how they would get the best out of Lillee's "once in a generation bowler". Critical for the selectors was the formulation of a bowling attack in which Johnson could sit happily as an aggressor, free of unhelpful notions about the leader's mantle. Critical for Johnson was working to find a mental space in which he could operate without fear or expectation.

It was no coincidence that Johnson's problems against England sprang up in the aftermath of a highly successful South Africa tour in 2009. Though Ricky Ponting's team had functioned as an ensemble, it was Johnson who attracted the attention, and subsequently arrived in England thinking largely of the pressure he would be under to carry the rest. Cardiff brought frustration, Lord's humiliation, and for most of the next two years Johnson veered between unplayable and unmentionable.

A foot injury in Johannesburg in 2011 arrived at a serendipitous moment. Allowing Johnson and his handlers to step back from the treadmill he had been on. Durability was always a strength for his strong body, but it had become millstone of sorts as pace dipped and desire ebbed away. By the time Johnson was recalled to the Test team last summer, his appreciation for international combat had been enhanced by time away, while Michael Clarke seemed clearer on how to harness him.

Test matches against Sri Lanka in Melbourne and Sydney look remarkably prescient now. Johnson was used as a shock weapon alongside the steadier work of Peter Siddle and Jackson Bird, breaking bones and taking wickets on a pair of quite easy-paced pitches. While the dysfunctional tour of India drew a major hiccup, as Johnson was one of the Mohali four suspended for failing to follow team instructions, the memory of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara hopping about was not erased from the selectors' thoughts.

What followed was a steady diet of limited-overs matches, first in the IPL and then for Australia in England and India. On surfaces not always given to pace and bounce, Johnson unsettled numerous batsmen, none more than Jonathan Trott. Surrounded by bowlers of narrower parameters, he was able to express himself, with appreciably higher speed and better rhythm the result. Johnson's early departure from India effectively forfeited the ODI series but allowed him to recalibrate in a Sheffield Shield match at the WACA ground.

Duly prepared, he unveiled a Brisbane performance to unleash plenty of bloodthirsty rebel yells from a wide-eyed crowd at the Gabba, and nodding approval from the bowling coach, Craig McDermott. In each innings, Johnson took advantage of earlier incisions with the kind of vigour he had intermittently shown in the past, using the bounce on offer to tremendous effect. In doing so he planted seeds of doubt that were still evident when the teams resumed in Adelaide.

Johnson's coach, Darren Lehmann, had remarked that despite the help he received from the pitch, pace through the air meant that similar havoc was not implausible for the slower, lower drop-in strip of Adelaide. This was certainly evident in his dismissal of Alastair Cook, a ball of enough velocity and curve to worry all of England's batsmen. Lower bounce was not entirely a curse either, Joe Root struck brutally in the chest by a ball he might have ducked under in Queensland.

On day three, Johnson again found himself working to exploit a breach made by Siddle, Nathan Lyon and Shane Watson. The manner in which he did so was definitive, twice threatening to claim a hat-trick, while creating a thunderous atmosphere seldom easy to stir up in Adelaide. England's tailenders are now as fearful of Johnson as their predecessors were against the great West Indian sides, and their batsmen as wary. It is an effect only the fastest and best can conjure.

Having finally worked out how to utilise his irresistible force, Johnson and Australia will now hope for a long period of success while doing so. At 32 he has reached the age when most bowlers of his speed have begun to throttle back, but the hour of terror in Adelaide may come to be seen as the first day of the second half of his career.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on December 7, 2013, 16:24 GMT

    Well I sat riveted to my computer screen until 4 am this morning watching the match. As a fellow left arm pacer, Mitchell Johnson has been my favorite bowler since I first saw him bowl, and for me he has cemented that place as I watch him fight his demons and rise like a phoenix from the ashes. True greatness doesn't come from walking on paved streets, but fighting through the challenges to harness your own inner truth. Last night's spell in my eyes eclipsed the 8/61 performance against S.A years ago. As a West Indian, I have an in-bred love for genuine fast bowling, and though we lack this level of consistency and terror in our region at the moment, I have full respect and adoration for the gift wherever it is found. It's good for cricket on the whole and anyone with a passion for the game can appreciate what we are witnessing now. I know Mitch may never see this, but he should know that no matter what he does, he'll always have my support. He's becoming a true great. PACE LIKE FIRE!!

  • on December 10, 2013, 9:19 GMT

    I hope Mohammad amir returns and challenges him

  • litchfield on December 9, 2013, 5:49 GMT

    Obviously any comparison to great Left Handers like Akram is way off but now that he is not trying to swing the ball Johnson is looking like edging into Thommo-like shock strike bowler territory. Pattinson no good? have a look at some of his bowling vs India last time they were in Aust. Cummins? time may tell whether his body is up to it but who can fail to have high hopes for him after seeing the way he worked Kallis over in SA (with intelligence as much as brute pace)

  • brisCricFan on December 9, 2013, 2:30 GMT

    @Ian Jones; "2 great Test matches do not make a legendary bowler" -

    With his performance now in the 2nd Test, that takes Mitchell Johnson to 7 Man of the Match performances... so lets talk legendary status... That places him 36th all-time ahead of Swann & Broad (6 each) and Anderson (5) and equal to Dale Steyn on 7... but when you look at conversion of MOM to matches played, MJ is now 6th on the list (V Philander, W Akram, M Muralithiaran, C Ambrose, and J Kallis are ahead of him) with 7 in 53 matches.

    Those sort of figures suggest that of all the players here, he is the player most likely to have a serious impact... and he is proving that at the moment.

  • Murtaza. on December 9, 2013, 1:41 GMT

    He is good but not good enough to compare with other legendary bowlers. His stats are very good , but he is far away of Wasim Akram skills . Akram was real champion , players sachin , Lara, Taylor , Waugh , Ambrose, Donald , McGrath, gangully and many others sang his songs in their prime time. So just wait 2-3 series then compare.

  • Chris_P on December 8, 2013, 22:22 GMT

    @Ian Jones.Yep, I talked Cummins up ,but I have seen him live & let me tell you he is lightning! When an 18 yo runs through a top class batting line-up like South Africa, something tells me he has a little bit of the "it" factor. Starc looked awful in England? Took 11 wickets in 3 tests averaging 32 & with a back injury? Interesting take but you are entitled to your opinion of course.

  • ScottStevo on December 8, 2013, 20:39 GMT

    @Ian Jones, um, that's because Cummins is 19, is seriously fast and has also done well in ODI cricket - which is astonishing at that age. Pattinson was Aus best bowler in 2012 and did well against SA, who boast a much more formidable batting line up than Eng. He also was one of the only threatening quicks we had in India. It was noticeable the lack of pace he was showing in Eng. Possibly he was told to slow down to find swing, or his injury was already niggling, but he too is rather sharp. Starc didn't look too bad in Eng either and is a way better prospect than any of the young quicks in Engs ranks.

  • on December 8, 2013, 17:57 GMT

    I would wish for one Mitch with the Indian team for bowling at the opposition and providing practice to the Indian team against top class pace.

    While watching England's first innings in this test at Adelaide, was surprised that Clarke kept using Siddle, Lyon et al when he 10th wicket partnership flourished. Then Mitch came on....He has outdone himself this time. Hope he keeps bowling fast and furious. Showed that bowlers need not be an endangered species.

  • on December 8, 2013, 9:14 GMT

    Amused that some people are bigging up Cummins (1 Test, injured ever since), Pattinson (his brother is better) and Starc (looked awful in England).

  • on December 8, 2013, 9:07 GMT

    2 great Test matches do not make a legendary bowler! Just looks like a man Pakistan. Brilliant one Test or series, dire the next

  • on December 7, 2013, 16:24 GMT

    Well I sat riveted to my computer screen until 4 am this morning watching the match. As a fellow left arm pacer, Mitchell Johnson has been my favorite bowler since I first saw him bowl, and for me he has cemented that place as I watch him fight his demons and rise like a phoenix from the ashes. True greatness doesn't come from walking on paved streets, but fighting through the challenges to harness your own inner truth. Last night's spell in my eyes eclipsed the 8/61 performance against S.A years ago. As a West Indian, I have an in-bred love for genuine fast bowling, and though we lack this level of consistency and terror in our region at the moment, I have full respect and adoration for the gift wherever it is found. It's good for cricket on the whole and anyone with a passion for the game can appreciate what we are witnessing now. I know Mitch may never see this, but he should know that no matter what he does, he'll always have my support. He's becoming a true great. PACE LIKE FIRE!!

  • on December 10, 2013, 9:19 GMT

    I hope Mohammad amir returns and challenges him

  • litchfield on December 9, 2013, 5:49 GMT

    Obviously any comparison to great Left Handers like Akram is way off but now that he is not trying to swing the ball Johnson is looking like edging into Thommo-like shock strike bowler territory. Pattinson no good? have a look at some of his bowling vs India last time they were in Aust. Cummins? time may tell whether his body is up to it but who can fail to have high hopes for him after seeing the way he worked Kallis over in SA (with intelligence as much as brute pace)

  • brisCricFan on December 9, 2013, 2:30 GMT

    @Ian Jones; "2 great Test matches do not make a legendary bowler" -

    With his performance now in the 2nd Test, that takes Mitchell Johnson to 7 Man of the Match performances... so lets talk legendary status... That places him 36th all-time ahead of Swann & Broad (6 each) and Anderson (5) and equal to Dale Steyn on 7... but when you look at conversion of MOM to matches played, MJ is now 6th on the list (V Philander, W Akram, M Muralithiaran, C Ambrose, and J Kallis are ahead of him) with 7 in 53 matches.

    Those sort of figures suggest that of all the players here, he is the player most likely to have a serious impact... and he is proving that at the moment.

  • Murtaza. on December 9, 2013, 1:41 GMT

    He is good but not good enough to compare with other legendary bowlers. His stats are very good , but he is far away of Wasim Akram skills . Akram was real champion , players sachin , Lara, Taylor , Waugh , Ambrose, Donald , McGrath, gangully and many others sang his songs in their prime time. So just wait 2-3 series then compare.

  • Chris_P on December 8, 2013, 22:22 GMT

    @Ian Jones.Yep, I talked Cummins up ,but I have seen him live & let me tell you he is lightning! When an 18 yo runs through a top class batting line-up like South Africa, something tells me he has a little bit of the "it" factor. Starc looked awful in England? Took 11 wickets in 3 tests averaging 32 & with a back injury? Interesting take but you are entitled to your opinion of course.

  • ScottStevo on December 8, 2013, 20:39 GMT

    @Ian Jones, um, that's because Cummins is 19, is seriously fast and has also done well in ODI cricket - which is astonishing at that age. Pattinson was Aus best bowler in 2012 and did well against SA, who boast a much more formidable batting line up than Eng. He also was one of the only threatening quicks we had in India. It was noticeable the lack of pace he was showing in Eng. Possibly he was told to slow down to find swing, or his injury was already niggling, but he too is rather sharp. Starc didn't look too bad in Eng either and is a way better prospect than any of the young quicks in Engs ranks.

  • on December 8, 2013, 17:57 GMT

    I would wish for one Mitch with the Indian team for bowling at the opposition and providing practice to the Indian team against top class pace.

    While watching England's first innings in this test at Adelaide, was surprised that Clarke kept using Siddle, Lyon et al when he 10th wicket partnership flourished. Then Mitch came on....He has outdone himself this time. Hope he keeps bowling fast and furious. Showed that bowlers need not be an endangered species.

  • on December 8, 2013, 9:14 GMT

    Amused that some people are bigging up Cummins (1 Test, injured ever since), Pattinson (his brother is better) and Starc (looked awful in England).

  • on December 8, 2013, 9:07 GMT

    2 great Test matches do not make a legendary bowler! Just looks like a man Pakistan. Brilliant one Test or series, dire the next

  • zaandaruwala on December 8, 2013, 7:45 GMT

    @Rehan Sethi: He made Indian batsman hop and jump on extremely flat tracks where every inning was 300+

    plus he has always performed well in india.

  • on December 8, 2013, 2:44 GMT

    Excellent article... I see a big similarity between Johnson and Wahab, they both are very quick, slingy and can bowl bumpers very effectively...

    This is a great lesson for both Wahab and Pakistan management how best use his raw pace. Don't try to fix his wrist and swing, let him focus on thunder bolts, he is still young, can be very handy in west... I hope they learn this quick from this ashes...

  • Chris_Howard on December 8, 2013, 1:18 GMT

    We shouldn't get too excited. Two Tests is hardly enough to put him - especially him - on a pedestal.

    Perth will be fun for him, as it always is.

    We're getting a bit over excited over his pace too. 150ks is fast, but medium pace compared to those Thommo, Lee, Atkhar etc! Plenty of guys around world cricket that can bowl 150. It's just that England have forgotten how to play that pace, and are making it look like 160.

  • flowersintherain on December 8, 2013, 0:02 GMT

    Watching a bowler beat the batsman with sheer speed and have the ball crash into the stumps is one of the most exciting sights in cricket. Watching Johnson completely clean up Cook, Broad and Anderson had me leaping off my couch each time - and I'm not even a particular fan of Australia!

  • on December 8, 2013, 0:00 GMT

    You might want to add Dale Steyn's incredible performance on a lifeless Nagpur pitch in 2010 to that list of extraordinary fast bowling spells.

  • Rufus_Fuddleduck on December 7, 2013, 23:58 GMT

    Truly an article with archiveal value. We all have narrowed down the focus of what this Ashes can be - Johnson's Ashes

  • foozball on December 7, 2013, 23:56 GMT

    @Ricardo Williams, it's a little unfair to consider MJ's wickets like that. Certainly the WI fast bowlers would terrorise any era, but the simple fact is current batsmen aren't used to sustained accurate pace >140kmh/90mph. That's not MJ's fault! In truth, the impact of the bowlers is comparable: seeing Broad walk/run away from his stumps tells you of the fear, just like in the good old days. Now just imagine having 4 MJs, all with subtly different actions and strengths, all very fast. Is it any wonder WI ruled the world so comprehensively for so long?

  • foozball on December 7, 2013, 23:51 GMT

    @Srinivas Pachari - you would have just missed out on Wasim Akram being at his fastest. I'm sure a young Wasim was faster than MJ, and definitely more lethal... although in the stump, rather than bone shattering way. Searing left arm pace with late swing... wow. That's taking nothing away from MJ - just very different bowlers.

  • AnanRam on December 7, 2013, 23:20 GMT

    You left out Curtley Ambrose's 6 for 24 in Trinidad versus England in 1993-94.

  • gibbons on December 7, 2013, 23:06 GMT

    For all the detractors even in this comment thread, his average is presently better than that of Anderson, Broad or Swann. Which, for a man of 53 tests and 221 wickets, is quite good. I would have thought, anyway.

  • Chris_P on December 7, 2013, 22:40 GMT

    @Michael Flynn. Pattinson matches Johnson's pace, Cummins is quicker (Look what he did to the strong Bok batting line-up as an 18yo!). When these 2 are fully fit & available, good times lay ahead. Let's not discount Bird, Starc & a myriad of other quicks all lining up.

  • VivGilchrist on December 7, 2013, 22:37 GMT

    @Ricardo Williams, please don't comment if you have not watched the match. He got an LBW and uprooted the stumps FOUR times on a pitch that no other bowler has got anything out of. The eventual dismissal of Broad was one of the greatest pieces of sporting theatre I have ever witnessed live. His dismissals in Brisbane due to "rash" shots were driven by the batsmen being shaken up. Credit where credit is due mate.

  • Chris_P on December 7, 2013, 22:30 GMT

    @amumta. Indeed Imran Khan introduced himself to the speed world that match, the 3rd test, but Thompson injured his shoulder in the first test of that series that effectively put him out of cricket for a year returning not quite the bowler he was before the shoulder injury.

  • Bonehead_maz on December 7, 2013, 21:52 GMT

    @ electric_loco_WAP4 I think you'll find Jim Laker 46, Terry Alderman 42 & 41, Rodney Hogg 41, and Shane Warne have got 40 in a series. Alec Bedser & Dennis Lillee both 39 and Maurice Tate with 38 will also be difficult to pass ? Johnson's certainly bowling well and getting good results, which I hope continue, but let's keep it in perspective ?

  • Big_Chikka on December 7, 2013, 21:50 GMT

    if australia take this series he will be remembered as a great aussie fast bowler, enjoy his art while its there..............

  • Clavers on December 7, 2013, 21:33 GMT

    @Michael Flynn: When Pattinson gets back on the park it should be very exciting.

  • kickassPakistan on December 7, 2013, 19:52 GMT

    what a beautiful sight to him bowl those reverse swinging deliveries. world needs more fast bowlers

  • on December 7, 2013, 18:51 GMT

    Gotta say that the bloke is beginning to resemble the great DK Lillee...albeit fleetingly. Yes he is 32 so how long can he maintain the blistering pace and hostility? If he had a partner equally as quick it would make very interesting viewing.

  • on December 7, 2013, 17:52 GMT

    Excellent article Daniel, but I have one question. Is Sir. Mitchell Johnson the quickest left arm bowler in World cricket history? I have been watching cricket from 1992. I have not seen a quicker left arm fast bowler in my time.

    I think that is the reason why MJ should be considered along with the greats (because he creates the angles with pace). If he has one successful year he will take Australia to number 1 along with Pattinson, Harris and Siddle.

  • on December 7, 2013, 17:04 GMT

    Well for me he is just another bowler nd he is being overhyped after just one good spell. Lets see if he can perform on those dead asian pitches than he can come close to the lowest level of those legendary fast bowler e.g holding, ambrose, wasim, waqar, shoaib, McGrath, lee.

  • SurlyCynic on December 7, 2013, 16:32 GMT

    In a couple of months we will see the SA and Aus teams facing off on the quick wicket at the Wanderers, it's going to be quite something.

    Last year SA faced Johnson at the WACA and won the test, but on Johnson's previous tour of SA he broke Kallis's arm and Smith's hand. Can't wait for the next installment.

  • electric_loco_WAP4 on December 7, 2013, 16:10 GMT

    Think that Mitch in his present state going to shatter some Ashes records . Half a dozen 5 fers,couple of 10 wkt hauls and at this rate 35 wkts in this series- a record in Ashes . Take that Barmies !!!

  • chitti_cricket on December 7, 2013, 16:01 GMT

    When there is such balance strikes between fast bowling and batting Johnson and Bell yesterday Gavasker and WI bowlers yesteryear's was it not the test cricket at it's best. Then why the hell cricket administrators want to kill that intrigue, guile, intimidation and joy that a steaming fast bowler brings to game of cricket die? by framing useless, stupid rules? we in fact every, cricketing nation has to develop fast bowlers of quality and preserve them. Administrators now should relax rules for bowlers and make cricket an even battle between ball and bat. Fast bowlers also have to make themselves only to play test cricket and they should be well financed and nurtured there. Thus they are not tempted to play other useless forms of cricket and sustain injuries to them and strip cricket loving people to enjoy the joy of watching their art.

  • on December 7, 2013, 15:57 GMT

    I won't compare Mitchell Johnson with the Greats. Most of the wickets I saw him took in the first test were due to rash strokes by a timid English batting line up looking for someone to fear due to the reputation of Australian Quicks in the past. If he was taking wickets by uprooting stumps or LBW due to batsmen beaten for paste then that will be a difference. Batsmen playing rash strokes is just what it is batsmen playing rash strokes and not the greatness of the bowler.

  • DragonCricketer on December 7, 2013, 15:46 GMT

    Good line Daniel: "Jeff Thomson's (spell) at Kensington Oval in 1978 is still spoken of in hushed tones on Barbados. " Slips better stand back another 3 meters for Johnson at The WACA.

  • on December 7, 2013, 15:10 GMT

    @crockit: l would like to see you face up to 92mph and not be intimidated.

  • milepost on December 7, 2013, 14:53 GMT

    I wanted him in the team, he's been in good form and there is nothing like genuine pace. I could watch the highlights over and over. Fielding was fantastic and all the bowlers chipped in. Superb captaincy as well. The champagne will be flowing in Perth.

  • chitti_cricket on December 7, 2013, 14:21 GMT

    Folks and all cricketing fraternity, think of Mitchel Stark joining this guy Mitchel Johnson and rest of their fast bowling, does not it sound like 1980's WI fast bowling and 1970's Aussie fast bowling. It does indeed and I'm certain it will bring fear and doom to opposition batters. Man, want to see few test matches when these two play for Australia and Aussies playing SA. That series would be cracker. Test cricket at it's best. Who says test cricket is boring? this ultimate sport of intrigue, guile and unpredictability. All should admit they are bluffing if they say they predicted such utter Aussie dominance before the start of series after watching so many previous Ashes and Johnson in them. See the unpredictability. What a game test cricket is. Long live .

  • tickcric on December 7, 2013, 14:15 GMT

    Seeing Johnson today I am just beginning to understand the phenomenon that was Sunil Gavaskar. Never saw him play but to score 13 centuries against not 1 but a 4x Mitchell Johnson attack (without even adding their other strengths as fast bowlers) is something!!! And its not just that the Windies had fast men, Australia had 'em too. Gavaskar must have been some batsman!

  • warneneverchuck on December 7, 2013, 14:12 GMT

    He has not only takem wickets but also demoralised eng and at the same time boosted aus confidence. I think aussie wil be hard to stop now

  • on December 7, 2013, 13:34 GMT

    I cried when Shane Bond retired. I thought that the era of 'FAST BOWLING' was over. Then Dale Steyn developed into one of the greatest of all time. Today I saw something that lit my heart up again. Truly menacing fast bowling. It's been a long wait. Welcome Mitch. Welcome to the club of great FAST BOWLERS.

  • on December 7, 2013, 12:57 GMT

    I got to sit there today at the oval in the members stand and watch a display of bowling that I was in awe of. The sheer pace and aggression he was bowling with is something that the Australian bowling line up has been missing for a long time. That and consistency from its bowlers. If this is a sign of things to come, this will be a great series to watch.

  • on December 7, 2013, 12:41 GMT

    Pace lad! Pace!!! Take a bow MJ.

  • orangtan on December 7, 2013, 12:38 GMT

    If he can maintain this stupendous form, Johnson can match the Saffers on their home turf come Feb 2014 and Australia could be moving up the rankings very rapidly. Go Mitch !!

  • subhfloyd123 on December 7, 2013, 12:33 GMT

    west indian fast bowlers of the golden era-malcolm marshall,andy roberts,cory croft,joel garner,michael holding,curtly ambrose and courtney walsh to name a few created havoc in opposition dressing rooms with fiery,extirpating and venomous deadly spells of masterclass fast bowling. it has been ages since we have encountered such devastaing quality bowling.unlike the great dale steyn,no genuine fast bowler has emerged in the modern era to run through a formidable batting lineup. but watching johnson bowl at the gabba and adelaide recently,all doubts are cleared.this can said as fast bowling at its extreme best.a tattoed left arm creating chaos in english dressing room.keep going mitchhhh.

  • k51ngh on December 7, 2013, 12:18 GMT

    well done johnson..... i think england is not scoring because they are concentrating on defence a lot.... they sholud play normal game and try to play bit fast like aussies

  • Vikramaditya100 on December 7, 2013, 12:13 GMT

    One of the greatest spells of our times.... Quite a rarity these days.... love to see more of such stuff.... doesn't matter who bowls it.... Mitch take a bow....

  • Blakey on December 7, 2013, 12:09 GMT

    Despite the sometimes erratic bowling, Mitch has always been right up there with our second teir great fast bowlers (Thommo, Merv, etc). Dissapointing how everyone now wants to climb on his bandwagon when he is cleaning up the poms. The main problem was that he always had to be the smaher and basher and then the tight controller. Now that Harris and Siddle don't release the pressure he is able to better capitalise on situations as they present. Sensational spell today and just magic watching him give Anderson the 'silent treatment'. Deadly stare and all!

  • izzidole on December 7, 2013, 12:01 GMT

    We all knew that Mitchell Johnson had the potential despite his most disappointing and wayward bowling throughout his career.Finally he has delivered not once but twice at the Gabba and now at Adelaide and is here to stay not as a stop gap but a permanent member of the aussie cricket team. He could be the most feared fast bowler in test cricket if he lives to his promise. No doubt he is a match winner and a tremendous boost to the Australian cricket team.

  • dunger.bob on December 7, 2013, 11:58 GMT

    He's going about a thousand times better than I thought he would. I'll fess up to being one of those who wasn't happy when they selected him in Brisbane.

  • VivtheGreatest on December 7, 2013, 11:46 GMT

    All the bowling performances mentioned are great but Wasim and Waqar stand out for their spells on the flattest pitches. As an Indian, I can confidently say that the pitches in the subcontinent give a new meaning to the word dead and so those two are unarguably the greatest ever. They just took the pitch out of the equation with speed thtough the air and supreme skill.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on December 7, 2013, 11:40 GMT

    If my maths is correct, a batsman facing 95mph bowling has ~0.47 seconds to react. Yes many of England's batsmen are in terrible form, but bowling like that will trouble the best of batsmen in the best of form at the best of times.

    Fantastic spells by MJ, and well done to him. He has turned up in style this series.

  • Jalz007 on December 7, 2013, 11:17 GMT

    Mitch seems to getting better & better. All thanks to the faith shown by the Aussie selectors. They persisted with him, even when he was off-color or when he was injured. Persistence pays, especially when there is raw talent. Australia are reaping the benefits now. His confidence is now supreme, he will get even better. England beware....

  • HatsforBats on December 7, 2013, 11:16 GMT

    And yet Johnson has produced previous spells of such heart thumping vigour. The Proteas may once have considered themselves (tragically) lucky to see such feats. Sangakkara suffered a fate only Smith had previously endured.

    The man is so fit & strong it is easy to believe he has a good few years of terror & destruction to come. He & I are of a similar vintage. Our first born's are just months apart. I'm assuming my formerly rotationally-deficited right shoulder is now capable of 150kph swinging thunderbolts, cast as if from the fingers of an angry titan. I may just pop into the local nets tomorrow.

  • on December 7, 2013, 11:13 GMT

    No sight in cricket better than a fast bowler go about his execution irrespective whether the pitch is slow or fast. Johnson has revived the good old memories of giant Australian and West Indian quicks who terrorized batsmen irrespective of the pitch conditions. If he can manage his fitness for the next 2 - 3 years, watching his bowling in test cricket could be an edge of the seat thriller

  • riaz.m on December 7, 2013, 11:08 GMT

    Fantastic fast bowling coupled with gutless batting by most ofthe England batsman.Johnson has managed to harness his natural pace with accuracy and will cause problems to most international batsman who are not used to such pace on a regular basis. if anything he seems to have added a little pace from couple of years ago. He looked dangerous during the ODIs in England so this should not be a surprise. What is surprising is limp England batting with the exception of Carberry who showed good technique and guts to fight it out and Panesar, who, for his comical faults, was very courageous when facing up. Broad was delaying facing up to Johnson,it could be seen how he played his only ball,gutless! What of KP,for those who still think he is great this was his moment to stand up and what do we have? KP no show!! Puts the runs of Gower et all against WI in context doesn't it!!

  • Front-Foot-Sponge on December 7, 2013, 11:07 GMT

    There were so many comments after the Gabba that Mitch could only bowl short and on bouncy wickets. I think we saw enough stumps flying today to know that is not his only skill. Cricket is about form and performance so it's no surprise that the series is poised the way it is.

  • disco_bob on December 7, 2013, 10:58 GMT

    Bravo MJ, take a bow. I'm sure even the England supporters realise that losing the earn is a small price to pay to witness such rare ability finally come to fruition.

    It is plain to me that Phillip Hughes is the batting equivalent of Johnson and CA should learn from their mistakes and get him back into the team, pronto and get rid of Watson the pretender.

  • xtrafalgarx on December 7, 2013, 10:49 GMT

    I didn't see Lillie, i didn't see Thomo, but boy, i have seen Mitchell Johnson. The most impressive thing about it is that there was expectation and he has lived up to it, he only needs 1 more of his good performances to give Australia a real hold on the urn.

    He has also shown his intelligence, the GABBA was a faster track with no swing when he bowled full so he resorted to a shorter length and used to short ball to devastating effect, at Adelaide, the slower pitch, he has used his pace and pitched it up fuller, resulting in bowled's and lbw's, fantastic cricket.

    A prodigious talent at the top of his game, great to see.

  • on December 7, 2013, 10:48 GMT

    The English batsmen seem so focused on the fact Johnson can bowl short they're completely ignoring the fact he can hit the stumps.

    His form going into this series was phenomenal and he's really putting in work for Australia right now.

  • nareshgb1 on December 7, 2013, 10:34 GMT

    Heck - unbelievable. Lillee's comments never quite left the mind - but his waywardness was too much. No question though that on his day he outguns anyone including probably also Dale Steyn on HIS day.

    I started liking Mitch after he started palying for MI in the IPL where he did rather well (now for once the IPL helped someone heh?) - and who does not like someone down and out on his way back up?

    Certainly, he seems ot be in better mental space and this article lists out possible reasons quite well. Now remains to be seen how long this lasts. I was expecting something lot better from KP - but Bell was the only one.

  • crockit on December 7, 2013, 10:33 GMT

    What a load of guff. Around 92 mph is not frightening pace - at the most it would frighten tailenders and gutless players on a fast bouncy pitch which this certainly was not. Brett Lee bowled faster, Shaun Tate not to say Shaoib Ahktar etc...This was just Johnson doing what he has struggled to do regularly in the past - get rhythm and (despite the low arm bowl) in the right areas - in this case the wicket-taking deliveries were largely well pitched up with a bit of swing (typically reverse). On another day he might have come out with 3 or 4 but the fact that he was faced by numerous out of sorts batters and tailenders saw to it that he got 7.

  • on December 7, 2013, 10:32 GMT

    Appalling batting by England, firstly. If you can't make 200, you won't win tests, and England have failed to do so on all 3 occasions so far. However, a lot of praise must go to Mitchell Johnson (Mitch 2.0, with the radar fixed). Batsmen have had it too easy recently, with no "proper" fast bowlers around in tests (Steyn apart). Mitch seems intent on fixing that. My "test" for greatness in a fast bowler is "would he get into the West Indies side of the mid 1980's?" (the 1984/5 Australia tour had Marshall, Garner, Holding and Walsh, so you'd have to be a great to get in). On this form, Johnson would merit serious consideration.

  • on December 7, 2013, 10:30 GMT

    let's not forget other then the 16 wickets his taken in these last two tests, his still averaging under 30 with over 200 test wickets!

  • Shaggy076 on December 7, 2013, 10:13 GMT

    I still cant work out why after his work against Sri Lanka last year he was never taken to England.

  • SanjayOkhade on December 7, 2013, 10:09 GMT

    now he started to understand his own game.He is more concentrate on speed & swing.

  • amumtaz on December 7, 2013, 10:02 GMT

    Do not forget Imran Khans 12 wickets in 1976 Sydney Test that was considered by all as one of the fiercest of its time. Considering Thompson and Lillee also bowled in the same match.

  • amumtaz on December 7, 2013, 10:02 GMT

    Do not forget Imran Khans 12 wickets in 1976 Sydney Test that was considered by all as one of the fiercest of its time. Considering Thompson and Lillee also bowled in the same match.

  • SanjayOkhade on December 7, 2013, 10:09 GMT

    now he started to understand his own game.He is more concentrate on speed & swing.

  • Shaggy076 on December 7, 2013, 10:13 GMT

    I still cant work out why after his work against Sri Lanka last year he was never taken to England.

  • on December 7, 2013, 10:30 GMT

    let's not forget other then the 16 wickets his taken in these last two tests, his still averaging under 30 with over 200 test wickets!

  • on December 7, 2013, 10:32 GMT

    Appalling batting by England, firstly. If you can't make 200, you won't win tests, and England have failed to do so on all 3 occasions so far. However, a lot of praise must go to Mitchell Johnson (Mitch 2.0, with the radar fixed). Batsmen have had it too easy recently, with no "proper" fast bowlers around in tests (Steyn apart). Mitch seems intent on fixing that. My "test" for greatness in a fast bowler is "would he get into the West Indies side of the mid 1980's?" (the 1984/5 Australia tour had Marshall, Garner, Holding and Walsh, so you'd have to be a great to get in). On this form, Johnson would merit serious consideration.

  • crockit on December 7, 2013, 10:33 GMT

    What a load of guff. Around 92 mph is not frightening pace - at the most it would frighten tailenders and gutless players on a fast bouncy pitch which this certainly was not. Brett Lee bowled faster, Shaun Tate not to say Shaoib Ahktar etc...This was just Johnson doing what he has struggled to do regularly in the past - get rhythm and (despite the low arm bowl) in the right areas - in this case the wicket-taking deliveries were largely well pitched up with a bit of swing (typically reverse). On another day he might have come out with 3 or 4 but the fact that he was faced by numerous out of sorts batters and tailenders saw to it that he got 7.

  • nareshgb1 on December 7, 2013, 10:34 GMT

    Heck - unbelievable. Lillee's comments never quite left the mind - but his waywardness was too much. No question though that on his day he outguns anyone including probably also Dale Steyn on HIS day.

    I started liking Mitch after he started palying for MI in the IPL where he did rather well (now for once the IPL helped someone heh?) - and who does not like someone down and out on his way back up?

    Certainly, he seems ot be in better mental space and this article lists out possible reasons quite well. Now remains to be seen how long this lasts. I was expecting something lot better from KP - but Bell was the only one.

  • on December 7, 2013, 10:48 GMT

    The English batsmen seem so focused on the fact Johnson can bowl short they're completely ignoring the fact he can hit the stumps.

    His form going into this series was phenomenal and he's really putting in work for Australia right now.

  • xtrafalgarx on December 7, 2013, 10:49 GMT

    I didn't see Lillie, i didn't see Thomo, but boy, i have seen Mitchell Johnson. The most impressive thing about it is that there was expectation and he has lived up to it, he only needs 1 more of his good performances to give Australia a real hold on the urn.

    He has also shown his intelligence, the GABBA was a faster track with no swing when he bowled full so he resorted to a shorter length and used to short ball to devastating effect, at Adelaide, the slower pitch, he has used his pace and pitched it up fuller, resulting in bowled's and lbw's, fantastic cricket.

    A prodigious talent at the top of his game, great to see.

  • disco_bob on December 7, 2013, 10:58 GMT

    Bravo MJ, take a bow. I'm sure even the England supporters realise that losing the earn is a small price to pay to witness such rare ability finally come to fruition.

    It is plain to me that Phillip Hughes is the batting equivalent of Johnson and CA should learn from their mistakes and get him back into the team, pronto and get rid of Watson the pretender.