Johnson's form will have England licking their lips

Martin Smith Updated December 28, 2012, 8:30 pm


It's rare that Australian and English cricket fans find a common ground. But Mitchell Johnson's stunning return to form has both sets of supporters thinking all their Christmases have come at once.

Johnson was back to his best in the Boxing Day Test, dismissing six Sri Lankan batsmen, injuring two and coming agonisingly close to his second Test century.

It was reminiscent of the form that saw him named international cricketer of the year in 2009. His bowling was hostile, his batting crisp and his confidence high.

But rather than one Test against a sub-standard Sri Lankan side, it's the looming Ashes series that will make or break the unpredictable left-armer.

Despite all his successes, Johnson has not had a great time of it against the Old Enemy.

For every brilliant performance against England (think Perth in 2010), there have been others that still haunt Johnson to this day.

His horror opening spell at Lord's in 2009. His Harmison-esque wide at the Gabba in 2010. And of course the infamous Barmy Army chant that became the anthem of two summers ago: "He bowls to the left, he bowls to the right, Mitchell Johnson his bowling is shite."

Needless to say, Ashes cricket carries some deep mental scars for Johnson.

And the English, cocky as ever after an impressive series win in India, are already rolling out the welcome mat for Johnson's return to the Old Dart.

"If anything was designed to dispel the post-Christmas blues in soggy England, it is the thought that Johnson – a figure of fun during the 2010-11 Ashes – will be taking the field at Trent Bridge on July 10," wrote Lawrence Booth in The Daily Mail.

"The Barmy Army will be exercising their vocal chords."

The Twittersphere shared similar sentiments.

"Mitchell is going to play in the Ashes! Yessssssss!" was the tweet from English cricket blogger Peter Miller on Friday.

"Great news for England fans to wake up to: Mitchell Johnson has played himself into contention for The Ashes," tweeted Alternative Cricket to its 17,000 followers.

You get the picture.

Despite a 200-wicket Test career, England don't fear Johnson. In fact, they view him as their own secret weapon, a mentally fragile player who can be easily rattled.

Based on the past two Ashes series, that sentiment doesn't seem wide of the mark.

There is a lot of water to go under the bridge between now and the first of 10 Ashes Tests in the next 12 months.

And with rotation policies and injuries the theme of the summer, it would be foolish to assume Johnson will make his second Ashes tour.

But if he is part of Australia's XI in Nottingham in July, England will like their chances of retaining the famous old urn.

Follow @martinsmith87 on Twitter

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14 Comments

  1. Jeffrey03:49pm Friday 28th December 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    'bout sums it up- when he's good, he's very good, when he's bad, he's terrible....unpredictable sums Johnson up.

    Reply
  2. d04:18pm Friday 28th December 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    LOL. have to love the Poms. Flogged by everyone over the last year and they STILL think they are best.hahahaha. They are in for a rude shock if they think Johnson will be playing. Not a chance.

    Reply
  3. KissThis04:20pm Friday 28th December 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    The trouble with Australian selectors is they do not know who is going to play in the next test never mind the ashes series, even the bowlers themselves have to take a number and hope for the best and that they get picked...

    1 Reply
  4. KissThis04:27pm Friday 28th December 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    @d be careful what dribble comes from your lips, for a start England beat Australia in the last series in Australia and have just won a 4 match series in India 2 - 1 so I think you had better put foot back in mouth ok fool.

    2 Replies
  5. seek1mor05:40pm Friday 28th December 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    The poms will be licking their lips if Watson plays also. Watson is the softest player I have had the displeasure of watching play for Australia. This palooka does not have the mental or physical toughness to play backyard cricket, let alone test matches as his history clearly shows. If I was a pommy player the sledging would not stop when Watson came out to bat, sledging aimed directly at his lack of masculine genetalia. I really do hope the poms crucify this marshmallow hard dud. He has no place in the team.

    Reply
  6. The Skud06:14pm Friday 28th December 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    Who knows at this stage? Johnson, Watto, even Clarke may fail selection nearer the time. Most of the bowling attack is "on notice" to keep it up or disappear into the list of tried oncers.

    Reply
  7. Jeffrey06:42pm Friday 28th December 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    yep, agreed @seek1mor, soft as a macaroon....sample sledge" how long will ur calves/ hammies last this time precious ?"

    Reply
  8. Hidden Fortress07:31pm Friday 28th December 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    Siddles good, hes consistent but Johnson is the spearhead thats been missing from our attack. And he can bat, welcome back champ, you dont get 200 test wickets for nothing.

    Reply
  9. Tom Whatson08:27pm Friday 28th December 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    paul everyone beats india these days.we have a chance to beat the poms its through the best bat in the world clark.if he keeps batting like he has england should be afraid.

    Reply
  10. Chris08:50pm Friday 28th December 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    In the words of Bill Lawry, "Dear, oh dear, oh dear". Listen to the drivel that's started already. India are rubbish. England Beat them. Australia were rubbish last time we played England, a'la the post Lillee Marsh era. Bring it on Poms, who let's face it, are the most mentally weak sporting team, in all sports, in all of history!

    Reply

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