The Ashes 2013-14 December 11, 2013

Fiery Johnson prepares for the mind games in Perth

Having troubled the English batsmen with his speed and accuracy, Mitchell Johnson is now preparing for the mind games ahead of the third Ashes Test in Perth
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'Fast bowling all about intimidation' - Johnson

During his lowest times, Mitchell Johnson seemed as intimidating as the black swans that serenely glide on the water in Perth's parks. Sure, in theory they could break your hand with a vicious attack, but nobody is really frightened of them. When he was down, Johnson didn't dish out much lip to the opposition, and if he did he looked more goose than black swan.

How times have changed.

A few words here, a menacing smile there, all backed up with the kind of speed and accuracy that England's batsmen know can hurt them. This danger is not theoretical, it is real, very real. And at the WACA, Johnson's adopted home venue, on a pitch with pace and carry, the threat of a short ball is all part of the mind games Johnson wants to play with the England batsmen.

Will it come this ball? Do I prepare to play back, or can I stand my ground? If it comes, can I hook it, or do I duck for dear life?

"It's fast bowling, isn't it? Throughout history, it's all about intimidating," Johnson said in Perth on Wednesday. "Look at some of the recent ones like Shoaib Akhtar, he used to intimidate all batsmen around the world. Anyone bowling over 140 to me is quick and can be intimidating.

"If you can bowl a ball accurately at someone's grille, I don't care who you are, you're going to be intimidated, especially on a wicket like Perth. We saw it in Brisbane. Peter Siddle's pace had dropped down to 138 and to me that's still good pace, and bowling a good bouncer you can still intimidate. I like the fact that being a fast bowler, you can be intimidating."

That's good if it is Johnson's opponents in the firing line, but his team-mates weren't exactly rushing to take him on in the nets in the lead-up to the Perth Test. Steven Smith noted that the WACA practice pitches were just as fast as the one in the middle. "I'll be quite scared, I reckon, for those seven minutes," Smith said of facing up to Johnson.

Seven minutes won't be sufficient for England's batsmen, if they are to save this series. Extreme pace in Perth has the capacity to muddle the minds of even the most calm-looking batsmen. The WACA was Chris Rogers' home ground for ten years; he has seen it all, and knows how important it is for a batsman to stay focused on keeping his wicket intact.

"You are relying so much on your instincts and your reactions that you tend to go outside of your game plan a little bit," Rogers said. "Playing against Shaun Tait and Brett Lee, there have been times where you are almost worried about getting hit more than not getting out. Once you get into that situation, it can be dangerous as a batsman."

Then there are the words. Wickets have brought Johnson confidence, and that self-assurance has encouraged him to delve into the old art of sledging. At his nadir, he said little to the batsmen, and if he did it was an act to convince himself he was threatening. England's batsmen don't need convincing of that, but Johnson thinks he might remind them of it anyway.

"As a fast bowler I think sometimes you can go either way," Johnson said. "You can either be a bit lippy, or just a little smile here or there can make the batsmen think. Joe Root, we saw in Brisbane, he came back with a few words and I thought I'd cracked him then. You pick your players who either enjoy it or don't. You've got to be sure of which guys you want to go after and what to do. It's all part of the game to me. People call it sledging. I just call it mind games."

And then, as if his own mention of mind games triggered the thought that here might be a chance for some off the field, he reflected on Root's method of handling him.

"It's a cute little smile that he's got," Johnson said. "I didn't mind giving him a little one back as well. You're going to see plenty more of that, I'm sure. I don't mind if a batter does go back at me. It's about being in control. As long as I can be in control of it, then I'm happy."

For now, with 17 wickets at 12.70 so far in the series, it's fair to surmise Johnson is perfectly in control. And for England's batsmen, that's the scariest part.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on December 12, 2013, 14:41 GMT

    @oval77, nice one man. I think if there were more posters like you some of the Aussies here would turn it down a bit. We got a little nose rubbing from certain posters you see so thought repaying the favour after dishing out 2 hidings would be fun but you know what, I think most cricket fans would settle for a tight series with great cricket being played and keep the banter in good spirits.

  • oval77 on December 12, 2013, 12:21 GMT

    Much as it pains me, you've got to hand it to Johnson: we had our fun with him over the years and he's answering back eloquently. Makes for a good sporting story. And even if it causes more internal turmoil for this England fan, I would hope to see some of the other Australian players coming good too after such a disappointing few years. A strong Australia makes for good world cricket. So, congrats! ...And come on England!

  • Moza1968 on December 12, 2013, 8:08 GMT

    @dunger.bob, @Shaggy076 Agree that he's been bowling like a champion. I just think that with an action like his, its too easy to lose the radar. He's too slingy and roundarm. I reckon he's going to be one of those frustrating bowlers who are unplayable one season, and random rubbish the next. At the moment, he's on fire. I'm a neutral, but I can see Aus winning 5-0. Whether Johnson can do it for Aus in the next series is another story.

  • RVC-38 on December 12, 2013, 8:04 GMT

    I think it is all in Johnsons mind.... the fact he thinks that he can singlehandedly win back the ashes and become a national hero, just goes to show you that sledging (or mind games) from England and not just the team the whole country has massively backfired. The only sour note from these ashes is that the English still think we are a one man team HAHAHAHA. But the one positive is that Indians are still taking credit for Johnsons form reversal now that is in the mind.

  • on December 12, 2013, 7:58 GMT

    The Poms are dancing to Clarke and Lehmann's tune and it is sweet, glorious music. I reckon they could both influence and almost get Flower to pick the England team via the media. Puppets on a string.

  • dunger.bob on December 12, 2013, 7:52 GMT

    @ CrikiLeaks: Where do you get your info. .. No, actually, I don't want to know. .. Anyway, love your work. Unless it's untrue of course, in which case I just like it a bit.

  • RVC-38 on December 12, 2013, 7:50 GMT

    @ CrikiLeaks on (December 12, 2013, 6:20 GMT) I am a stat man... and boy have you got some states.

  • CrikiLeaks on December 12, 2013, 6:20 GMT

    @Hayden Field - English top 7 have faced 161 short balls, Australian top 7 have faced 145. It is not the one sided affair the english media suggest. England has scored 97 runs from these for the loss of 8 wickets and Australia has scored 181 for the loss of 4 wickets. Hope this helps you and others suggesting England must fire back with the short ball understand what has happened thus far in the series.

  • El_Awrens on December 12, 2013, 6:02 GMT

    The mind games have done for England. First the persistent niggling about "negative cricket", now the old chesnut about "fear of fast bowling". Both have persuaded England's batsmen to try and dominate the bowlers, a tactic always bound to fail for all but Pietersen and perhaps Prior. 23 of 40 England dismissals in the series so far have been caught down the legside - says it all. Congrats to Lehman on a clever plan well executed.

    Johnson has certainly bowled well at times, but Harris always looks the classier bowler to me. If England knuckle down and look to bat time (like they used to), this should be a more even contest. Of course we're still very much up against it - everyone knows England's (not to mention Johnson's) history at the WACA, but if England can produce a decent first innings and put the Aussies under a bit of pressure, this might be marginally interesting. I certainly hope so as I'm boarding the plane to Perth in 5 hours...

  • dunger.bob on December 12, 2013, 6:00 GMT

    Lots of people seem to think that it's Johnsons pace that makes him such a dangerous customer, but that's only partially true. There have been a number of bowlers who have been just as fast or visibly faster than Mitch. In fact both Ahktar and Lee were recorded in the 160-163 range. That's a full 10k faster than Johnson's best heat. Jeff Thompson is reputed to regularly top 160 in his pomp. btw, 160kph = 100 mph.

    There are other factors apart from speed that go to make up the Johno package when he's bowling like this. .. He's a left armer for a start. Immediately you've got something different there. Lefties are rare at Test level and few can bowl at 150. Then there's his action. I've read reports where players say that he's hard to pick up for some reason. He slings it Malinga style only not as pronounced. .. He swings it around sometimes. In, out it doesn't matter when the swing thing happens. ... He moves it off the seam sometimes as well. All in all, good luck.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on December 12, 2013, 14:41 GMT

    @oval77, nice one man. I think if there were more posters like you some of the Aussies here would turn it down a bit. We got a little nose rubbing from certain posters you see so thought repaying the favour after dishing out 2 hidings would be fun but you know what, I think most cricket fans would settle for a tight series with great cricket being played and keep the banter in good spirits.

  • oval77 on December 12, 2013, 12:21 GMT

    Much as it pains me, you've got to hand it to Johnson: we had our fun with him over the years and he's answering back eloquently. Makes for a good sporting story. And even if it causes more internal turmoil for this England fan, I would hope to see some of the other Australian players coming good too after such a disappointing few years. A strong Australia makes for good world cricket. So, congrats! ...And come on England!

  • Moza1968 on December 12, 2013, 8:08 GMT

    @dunger.bob, @Shaggy076 Agree that he's been bowling like a champion. I just think that with an action like his, its too easy to lose the radar. He's too slingy and roundarm. I reckon he's going to be one of those frustrating bowlers who are unplayable one season, and random rubbish the next. At the moment, he's on fire. I'm a neutral, but I can see Aus winning 5-0. Whether Johnson can do it for Aus in the next series is another story.

  • RVC-38 on December 12, 2013, 8:04 GMT

    I think it is all in Johnsons mind.... the fact he thinks that he can singlehandedly win back the ashes and become a national hero, just goes to show you that sledging (or mind games) from England and not just the team the whole country has massively backfired. The only sour note from these ashes is that the English still think we are a one man team HAHAHAHA. But the one positive is that Indians are still taking credit for Johnsons form reversal now that is in the mind.

  • on December 12, 2013, 7:58 GMT

    The Poms are dancing to Clarke and Lehmann's tune and it is sweet, glorious music. I reckon they could both influence and almost get Flower to pick the England team via the media. Puppets on a string.

  • dunger.bob on December 12, 2013, 7:52 GMT

    @ CrikiLeaks: Where do you get your info. .. No, actually, I don't want to know. .. Anyway, love your work. Unless it's untrue of course, in which case I just like it a bit.

  • RVC-38 on December 12, 2013, 7:50 GMT

    @ CrikiLeaks on (December 12, 2013, 6:20 GMT) I am a stat man... and boy have you got some states.

  • CrikiLeaks on December 12, 2013, 6:20 GMT

    @Hayden Field - English top 7 have faced 161 short balls, Australian top 7 have faced 145. It is not the one sided affair the english media suggest. England has scored 97 runs from these for the loss of 8 wickets and Australia has scored 181 for the loss of 4 wickets. Hope this helps you and others suggesting England must fire back with the short ball understand what has happened thus far in the series.

  • El_Awrens on December 12, 2013, 6:02 GMT

    The mind games have done for England. First the persistent niggling about "negative cricket", now the old chesnut about "fear of fast bowling". Both have persuaded England's batsmen to try and dominate the bowlers, a tactic always bound to fail for all but Pietersen and perhaps Prior. 23 of 40 England dismissals in the series so far have been caught down the legside - says it all. Congrats to Lehman on a clever plan well executed.

    Johnson has certainly bowled well at times, but Harris always looks the classier bowler to me. If England knuckle down and look to bat time (like they used to), this should be a more even contest. Of course we're still very much up against it - everyone knows England's (not to mention Johnson's) history at the WACA, but if England can produce a decent first innings and put the Aussies under a bit of pressure, this might be marginally interesting. I certainly hope so as I'm boarding the plane to Perth in 5 hours...

  • dunger.bob on December 12, 2013, 6:00 GMT

    Lots of people seem to think that it's Johnsons pace that makes him such a dangerous customer, but that's only partially true. There have been a number of bowlers who have been just as fast or visibly faster than Mitch. In fact both Ahktar and Lee were recorded in the 160-163 range. That's a full 10k faster than Johnson's best heat. Jeff Thompson is reputed to regularly top 160 in his pomp. btw, 160kph = 100 mph.

    There are other factors apart from speed that go to make up the Johno package when he's bowling like this. .. He's a left armer for a start. Immediately you've got something different there. Lefties are rare at Test level and few can bowl at 150. Then there's his action. I've read reports where players say that he's hard to pick up for some reason. He slings it Malinga style only not as pronounced. .. He swings it around sometimes. In, out it doesn't matter when the swing thing happens. ... He moves it off the seam sometimes as well. All in all, good luck.

  • dunger.bob on December 12, 2013, 5:38 GMT

    Moza1968: Your post looks like it's taken directly out of a Barmy Army song sheet. .. Like most popular songs, it eventually becomes yesterdays news. So it is with your view of Johnson. This is MJ MkII. Remodelled, retuned and purring like a Lambo.

    There's a lot of talk about the bouncers but Johnson has been smashing stumps. You don't do that if you're always bowling short. .. In the spirit of the Elephant Man, he is not an animal. He's actually a sensitive new age stump smasher and only uses the bouncer to scare the crap out of the batter once in a while. The rest of the time he aims for the corridor.

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on December 12, 2013, 5:35 GMT

    @Ian Jones Perth is the one place I would back him to repeat the performance. Have you no idea what his averages are at the WACA? Even when he was bowling at his wildest he still destroyed sides at the WACA.

  • Biggus on December 12, 2013, 4:11 GMT

    @brisCricFan:-"contrast him with Jimmy Anderson who looks like he'd rather be knitting woollen mittens somewhere... " Terrific shot, old bean. Wish I'd played it myself.

  • Shaggy076 on December 12, 2013, 4:05 GMT

    Moza1968; Have you been watching there has been no unpredictability. His full pitch and short pitch bowling has been extremely accurate he is like this when confident. Was labelled Wisden Cricketer of the year in the past so the bloke has talent. He just lost his radar completely for a couple of years but always found it in perth.

  • Moza1968 on December 12, 2013, 3:18 GMT

    Johnson is intimidating because of his unpredictability. His action is so unreliable that if he's "on" he can bowl unplayable deliveries, and if he's "off", the close-in fieldsmen are in more danger than the batsmen. When a batsman doesn't know if he's going to get a yorker, a beamer, or a wide, because of the bowler's limited control, that's scary.

  • on December 12, 2013, 2:45 GMT

    Amazing turnaround in the fortunes and performance of both the teams in a matter of a few months. England looks totally shattered and disarrayed while Australia have suddenly discovered a wealth of "born " players who are consistently giving match winning performances.

  • Cubey on December 12, 2013, 2:15 GMT

    Rankin and Finn MUST play.

    England must fight fire with fire and bowl bouncers aimed at Australia's armpits.

  • Kapcharlie on December 12, 2013, 1:34 GMT

    MJ has taken a number of wickets but few of them have been top order batsmen. Once the Poms realize that they can let the bouncers go by the sooner MJ will quit trying to bounce them because he will be expending a lot of energy for nothing. Cook and Co need to have patience .

  • on December 12, 2013, 1:06 GMT

    Interesting that another commentator suggested that Johnson hasn't got many top order players out. He has got Cook out twice, he despatched Trott as well. He also got Carberry Root and Pietersen once although Pietersen was always going to be Siddle's as Siddle know how to bowl to him. At his best, Johnson is pretty much unplayable (see Cook's first innings dismissal in Adelaide). However England have been under performing with the bat for quite a while. Once this series is over, hopefully with an Ashes win, we have to play South Africa who will be a real test on how much we have improved.

  • brisCricFan on December 12, 2013, 0:34 GMT

    @izzidole; don't get too carried away, Mitch won't get anywhere near 160kph... I would be surprised to see him top 155 in fact... his stock ball will still be high 140's and for those that doubt he will maintain that pace long don't appreciate how fit this guy is... he is rippling muscle at the moment having worked hard during his recovery... Add to that he was bred in country Qld in dry hot climates, was blooded at the Gabba, known also for extremes of temperature and now plays in the Hells Kitchen of International Cricket - the WACA.

    I think the part of all this that I enjoy most is that right now, at this point in time, Mitch is enjoying playing cricket... contrast him with Jimmy Anderson who looks like he'd rather be knitting woollen mittens somewhere...

  • wellrounded87 on December 11, 2013, 23:45 GMT

    There's more to intimidation than just getting the wicket. It was pretty obvious the batsmen for the most part weren't enjoying facing johnson. His lines were good and his pace was good. His economy rate was fine till Prior and Broad went after him in what can only be surmised as an attempt at plundering as many runs as possible before their inevitable defeat.

    Just because he didn't take the wickets of the top 6 (bar cook) doesn't mean he played no part in their removal. The batsmen were trying to survive his spells and go after the other bowlers, mostly throwing their wickets away. That is for me the intimidation factor. The English batsmen are normally reknown for their patience and application, yet after a few fiery spells from Johnson they're playing like nervous 20 yr old debutants. Also don't underestimate the value of knocking over a tail cheaply. As we've seen from the likes of Harris, Broad, Agar and Johnson big tail partnerships can really hurt.

  • on December 11, 2013, 23:39 GMT

    Aussie press bigging this bloke up like he's the fastest and best bowler ever. He's had 2 outstanding Tests, can't see him repeating it in Perth. If Anderson fires and Broad finds a bit of magic I can't see past an England win.

  • on December 11, 2013, 23:36 GMT

    One thing I've loved so far this series is the talk from the commentary and media after day one... remember the media getting stuck into Watson after day one in Brisbane. Never measure a team or a wicket until you've seen BOTH sides bat and bowl on the same wicket.

  • LeeHallam on December 11, 2013, 21:52 GMT

    His track record at winning mind games is not that good. If he is denied success for a while, he tends to fall apart. And don't make the mistake of forgetting about Broad, he will be looking forward to playing on this pitch to!

  • Shaggy076 on December 11, 2013, 21:47 GMT

    landl47 - Since your talking about top order batsman then the economy rate of 3rpo is misleading as well. When the top 6 had gone he was 18 overs 1/36. So the top order really didnt dominate him. THe tail flung the bat got lucky and the economy rate went up. Other than that I agree with your point, however top order batsman should not be intimadted by anyones pace on the slow Adelaide wicket and getting Cook out in both innings was a major dent to Englands confidence.

  • ShutTheGate on December 11, 2013, 21:45 GMT

    @Landl47, Root scored 87 in 269 minutes. I think you're giving his performance way too much credit.

    Especially as Warner hit 83 in 164 minutes at nearly double the strike rate.

    But if you think that the English batsmen are playing MJ wetland aren't intimidated then carry on. If you're players have a similar belief then we can look forward to seeing more hook attempts and mis timed pull shots. Game over.

  • on December 11, 2013, 20:03 GMT

    Got to be concerned that this type of bowling is considered as Johnson's stock bowl. I guess this is what you have to turn to when you do not have enough skill to bowl a good line and length. This lad is not quite right in the head.

  • Chris_P on December 11, 2013, 19:43 GMT

    @landl47. True Johnson didn't take that may top order wickets, but seriously troubled all batsmen & was no doubt, IMHO, a factor in the others taking the wickets. The Aussie quick bowers have been hunting as a pack, no let up. Also, England's innings of 312 on what was still a a very good batting track still poses more questions than answers. I know Johnson has been on fire, McDermott should get a lot of the plaudits, but only in SA in 2009 has he ever sustained this form over 3 tests so this one should confirm it. Harris bowled really well at The Gabba, but was a little off the boil in Adelaide, so let's hope he repeats Perth 2010.

  • AlSmug on December 11, 2013, 19:13 GMT

    I like all this chat from mitch as no doubt england will be focusing on how to not get out to mitch, meanwhile in perth ryan harris will be doing most of the damage, the urn will be back with its rightful owner at the end of this match you mark my words.

  • on December 11, 2013, 19:09 GMT

    Funny....I don't even think Johnson will be the biggest handful on this wicket.

    The real nightmare on this pitch will be Harris, particularly with his skiddy bowling gaining extra lift from the pitch, he will be a handful.

  • on December 11, 2013, 18:48 GMT

    Johnson will be quite frankly unplayable in Perth but Harris & Siddle will also be hard to handle. I can't see England topping 200 in either innings. The match will end shortly after lunch on the 4th day i reckon.

  • AamirKhan-SuperStar on December 11, 2013, 18:47 GMT

    I have always felt its batsmen who entertain the most in cricket. My thoughts have changed now, nothing is better than watching a fast bowler thirsty for blood. The effort, the emotion put in can not be matched. You are best in the world MJ!

  • strikeforce2003 on December 11, 2013, 18:33 GMT

    MiJo is gonna MoJo the Pommies..absolutely No doubt on that, for here at Perth the Oz's book the Ashes and the Winners Berth. I remember hearing Tendulkar on his neet the press, a day after his retirement, and was asked on the upcoming Ahes series and his views on the series..he mentioned Johnson was bowling well and seemed to hit form, that the English could find facing him tough. How true has been his forecast. Bell & KP seem to be bestir qualified in standing up to the Oz pacers. Should Cook avoid the slash to point or restrain the hook shot, and dig in, he could well provide a good score, giving Anderson/ Broad or the new chosen pacer in Finn or Tremlet ( Finn I woukd prefer), the tables could only then turn the Pommies way. Cricket is a leveller when tides turn, though do the Brits carry that determination and surety in facing MiJo, I carry my doubts on that...hence the 3rd Mojo

  • Beertjie on December 11, 2013, 18:01 GMT

    One of the greatest innings ever played, @Pierrev on (December 11, 2013, 13:27 GMT), was the way Roy Fredericks of the WI took Lillee and Thommo apart at the WACA in 1975. I don't think he said anything - just let his bat do the talking, but the message was clear: "it doesn't matter how quick you bowl at my head, the faster you bowl the faster it goes off the bat": 169 off 145 balls. I'm going to that first test, @ dalboy12 on (December 11, 2013, 17:02 GMT), and I wonder how the now ageing Kallis and Smith will stand up to him and Patto at altitude. They weren't able to cope 5 years ago when both had to retire hurt so it's sure going to be interesting this time around. 17 wickets at 12.70 are impressive figures so far, Brydon. Compare that to Thommo's after 2 tests: 16 wickets at 15.19. Thommo's 2 tests were the Gabba and the WACA, which makes Johnson's feats look even better.

  • dalboy12 on December 11, 2013, 17:02 GMT

    Can't wait till Feb, when Aussie tour SA. SA will not roll over in the face of Johnson, they are use to quick bowlers and sledging, and most of all they actually have quick bowlers capable of giving back as much as they get. It's going to be an awesome series over there. Hope we get some coverage here in NZ. Still convinced English confidence will come when their bowlers get wickets - if they can bowl Aussie out for not much that confidence will roll into their batting. There bowlers are letting them down as much as their batsman at the moment - the Aussies have severely limited the threat of Anderson and Swann, meaning Broad at the moment is the only real bowling threat.

  • Ozcricketwriter on December 11, 2013, 14:24 GMT

    There are a lot of confused people here. Since Johnson came back from injury in November 2012 he has been consistently brilliant. He was fantastic against both Sri Lanka and South Africa before oddly being left out of the England leg of the Ashes. Apparently this was because of players returning from injury but it just seemed bizarre. The guy has averaged 19 since with the ball since returning from injury a year ago - and still averages 26 not counting this recent series. In fact, exclude 1 bad test against India and he averaged 22. His form now is a bit of a surprise at how good it is but he was in great form already. He should have gone to England.

  • landl47 on December 11, 2013, 14:02 GMT

    It's easy to focus on one aspect of the game and forget the big picture. Although Johnson bowled very well in the first innings at Adelaide. he only got one (Cook) of England's top 5 batsmen out and in the second innings he took 1-73 (Cook again) at an economy rate of over 3rpo. Young Joe Root was able to play him and actually lost his wicket in both innings to Lyon. KP was out twice to the gentler pace of Siddle, who also got Carberry in the 2nd innings after Carbs was brilliantly caught by Warner off Watson in the first. Bell was not out in the first innings and gave his wicket away to a full toss from Smith in the 2nd.

    Those stats don't point to intimidation of England's batsmen being a big factor. Yes, Johnson is fearsome to lower-order batsmen, but genuinely quick bowlers always will be. However, giving Anderson the stare is like gloating about your hunting prowess after slaying a rabbit.

    If MJ can bend it as he did in 2010 he'll do well at Perth. If he's just quick, game on.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on December 11, 2013, 14:00 GMT

    Mitch is on fire but the other bowlers are too, Clarke is running the plans to perfection and we are taking absolute screamers. Add that to the 1450 runs we've made (declaring 3 times in 4 innings), winning by an average 240 a game, taking all 40 English wickets with ease and no doubt forcing wholesale changes to the England 11, do we need mind games? Doesn't look like it.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on December 11, 2013, 13:52 GMT

    "It's a cute little smile that he's got," Johnson said. "I didn't mind giving him a little one back as well..."

    Absolutely nothing wrong with a bit of banter on the cricket pitch. A big part of cricket is psychological; like it or lump it that's just the way it is and always has been. A line has to be drawn somewhere, but like pretty much everything else in life, it's almost impossible to agree on where that line should be. I do think the umpires must be more vigilant and consistent with their inference at times. Clearly some humans are more sensitive than others; but on the other hand, if one player starts throwing knives at the opposition, he shouldn't get any sympathy/preferential treatment if he starts getting cut himself. It's naïve to think that at the end of play, players unite together and sing "Ging Gang Goolie", but when you think back to certain recent events, can't we be forgiven for thinking at times "wouldn't it be lovely/better if they did..."

  • izzidole on December 11, 2013, 13:47 GMT

    Mitchell Johnson has now gained all the confidence he needs to be a dangerous fast bowler in world cricket which was lacking all these years. His ability to bowl at 150 kph consistently at the batsman is not only going to make the batsman fear for his life but also bring him a haul of wickets and win matches for the team. He means business and sledging is only part of his hunger for wickets which has eluded him all these years and nearly ended his career. No doubt the poms have already shown their weakness and could be expected to receive more of the same in Perth where Johnson could be expected to bowl at 160kph which would be a world record. Even if the England batsmen may have the right technique it would be too hot to handle on the fast and bouncy strip at the WACA.

  • Pierrev on December 11, 2013, 13:27 GMT

    It's all won in the mind... simple as that. More than anything that is where Aus have made their presence felt over this ENG team. The only way England can gain any respect from this tour will be to nullify MJ and some how draw a line in the sand and say enough is enough. Maybe something along the lines of "that's fine, it doesn't matter how quick you bowl at my head, the faster you bowl the faster it goes off the bat" Start fighting fire with fire.... haha glad I get to type this and not have to say it to Johnson's face!! But that's why they for their country and not me

  • ScottStevo on December 11, 2013, 13:03 GMT

    Nothing better than a fast bowler on his game terrorising batsmen, snarling all the while and reminding them of the impending danger! MJ has been bowling very well for around 18 months now (and can consider himself very unlucky not to have been selected for the last Ashes in Eng), so I'm quietly confident that he'll be able to keep the radar on and make a few hop around the crease praying they were elsewhere! He's got a great record here in Perth, I'm hoping long may that continue. The real question is, will Eng let their ego's get the better of them and take him on, or get themselves out of the way (if they have the time!)...to be fair, they'll probably get pretty good value for top edges!

  • Manxmuppet on December 11, 2013, 12:02 GMT

    Ahhhhh, mind games. The very same mind that last Aus Ashes series resulted in MJ unable to hit a barn door. It's a fragile thing, the mind, and I think that whilst a bit of banter makes for exciting cricket, MJ shouldn't delve too deeply into psychology just in case the wobbles come back.

    Well bowled to date though, Sir!

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  • Manxmuppet on December 11, 2013, 12:02 GMT

    Ahhhhh, mind games. The very same mind that last Aus Ashes series resulted in MJ unable to hit a barn door. It's a fragile thing, the mind, and I think that whilst a bit of banter makes for exciting cricket, MJ shouldn't delve too deeply into psychology just in case the wobbles come back.

    Well bowled to date though, Sir!

  • ScottStevo on December 11, 2013, 13:03 GMT

    Nothing better than a fast bowler on his game terrorising batsmen, snarling all the while and reminding them of the impending danger! MJ has been bowling very well for around 18 months now (and can consider himself very unlucky not to have been selected for the last Ashes in Eng), so I'm quietly confident that he'll be able to keep the radar on and make a few hop around the crease praying they were elsewhere! He's got a great record here in Perth, I'm hoping long may that continue. The real question is, will Eng let their ego's get the better of them and take him on, or get themselves out of the way (if they have the time!)...to be fair, they'll probably get pretty good value for top edges!

  • Pierrev on December 11, 2013, 13:27 GMT

    It's all won in the mind... simple as that. More than anything that is where Aus have made their presence felt over this ENG team. The only way England can gain any respect from this tour will be to nullify MJ and some how draw a line in the sand and say enough is enough. Maybe something along the lines of "that's fine, it doesn't matter how quick you bowl at my head, the faster you bowl the faster it goes off the bat" Start fighting fire with fire.... haha glad I get to type this and not have to say it to Johnson's face!! But that's why they for their country and not me

  • izzidole on December 11, 2013, 13:47 GMT

    Mitchell Johnson has now gained all the confidence he needs to be a dangerous fast bowler in world cricket which was lacking all these years. His ability to bowl at 150 kph consistently at the batsman is not only going to make the batsman fear for his life but also bring him a haul of wickets and win matches for the team. He means business and sledging is only part of his hunger for wickets which has eluded him all these years and nearly ended his career. No doubt the poms have already shown their weakness and could be expected to receive more of the same in Perth where Johnson could be expected to bowl at 160kph which would be a world record. Even if the England batsmen may have the right technique it would be too hot to handle on the fast and bouncy strip at the WACA.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on December 11, 2013, 13:52 GMT

    "It's a cute little smile that he's got," Johnson said. "I didn't mind giving him a little one back as well..."

    Absolutely nothing wrong with a bit of banter on the cricket pitch. A big part of cricket is psychological; like it or lump it that's just the way it is and always has been. A line has to be drawn somewhere, but like pretty much everything else in life, it's almost impossible to agree on where that line should be. I do think the umpires must be more vigilant and consistent with their inference at times. Clearly some humans are more sensitive than others; but on the other hand, if one player starts throwing knives at the opposition, he shouldn't get any sympathy/preferential treatment if he starts getting cut himself. It's naïve to think that at the end of play, players unite together and sing "Ging Gang Goolie", but when you think back to certain recent events, can't we be forgiven for thinking at times "wouldn't it be lovely/better if they did..."

  • Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on December 11, 2013, 14:00 GMT

    Mitch is on fire but the other bowlers are too, Clarke is running the plans to perfection and we are taking absolute screamers. Add that to the 1450 runs we've made (declaring 3 times in 4 innings), winning by an average 240 a game, taking all 40 English wickets with ease and no doubt forcing wholesale changes to the England 11, do we need mind games? Doesn't look like it.

  • landl47 on December 11, 2013, 14:02 GMT

    It's easy to focus on one aspect of the game and forget the big picture. Although Johnson bowled very well in the first innings at Adelaide. he only got one (Cook) of England's top 5 batsmen out and in the second innings he took 1-73 (Cook again) at an economy rate of over 3rpo. Young Joe Root was able to play him and actually lost his wicket in both innings to Lyon. KP was out twice to the gentler pace of Siddle, who also got Carberry in the 2nd innings after Carbs was brilliantly caught by Warner off Watson in the first. Bell was not out in the first innings and gave his wicket away to a full toss from Smith in the 2nd.

    Those stats don't point to intimidation of England's batsmen being a big factor. Yes, Johnson is fearsome to lower-order batsmen, but genuinely quick bowlers always will be. However, giving Anderson the stare is like gloating about your hunting prowess after slaying a rabbit.

    If MJ can bend it as he did in 2010 he'll do well at Perth. If he's just quick, game on.

  • Ozcricketwriter on December 11, 2013, 14:24 GMT

    There are a lot of confused people here. Since Johnson came back from injury in November 2012 he has been consistently brilliant. He was fantastic against both Sri Lanka and South Africa before oddly being left out of the England leg of the Ashes. Apparently this was because of players returning from injury but it just seemed bizarre. The guy has averaged 19 since with the ball since returning from injury a year ago - and still averages 26 not counting this recent series. In fact, exclude 1 bad test against India and he averaged 22. His form now is a bit of a surprise at how good it is but he was in great form already. He should have gone to England.

  • dalboy12 on December 11, 2013, 17:02 GMT

    Can't wait till Feb, when Aussie tour SA. SA will not roll over in the face of Johnson, they are use to quick bowlers and sledging, and most of all they actually have quick bowlers capable of giving back as much as they get. It's going to be an awesome series over there. Hope we get some coverage here in NZ. Still convinced English confidence will come when their bowlers get wickets - if they can bowl Aussie out for not much that confidence will roll into their batting. There bowlers are letting them down as much as their batsman at the moment - the Aussies have severely limited the threat of Anderson and Swann, meaning Broad at the moment is the only real bowling threat.

  • Beertjie on December 11, 2013, 18:01 GMT

    One of the greatest innings ever played, @Pierrev on (December 11, 2013, 13:27 GMT), was the way Roy Fredericks of the WI took Lillee and Thommo apart at the WACA in 1975. I don't think he said anything - just let his bat do the talking, but the message was clear: "it doesn't matter how quick you bowl at my head, the faster you bowl the faster it goes off the bat": 169 off 145 balls. I'm going to that first test, @ dalboy12 on (December 11, 2013, 17:02 GMT), and I wonder how the now ageing Kallis and Smith will stand up to him and Patto at altitude. They weren't able to cope 5 years ago when both had to retire hurt so it's sure going to be interesting this time around. 17 wickets at 12.70 are impressive figures so far, Brydon. Compare that to Thommo's after 2 tests: 16 wickets at 15.19. Thommo's 2 tests were the Gabba and the WACA, which makes Johnson's feats look even better.