Mitchell Johnson – the one who must not be named! That’s the reply you get when you ask the English batsmen who were given a torrid time by the tall, bulked fast bowler down under in 2013. Tattoos etched on his right shoulder and a big mustache that can be nightmares for any batsmen is the first thing that comes to one’s mind when he/she hears the name, Johnson or Mitch, as his teammates call him. Of course it would be great injustice to forget the short ball and the toe-crusher which were the weapons he mastered.
Mitchell Johnson hails from Townsville, Queensland in Australia. The 33-year-old left arm fast bowler shot into the limelight when Dennis Lillee identified him as a ‘once-in-nine-lives prospect’ after seeing him bowl in a fast bowling clinic in Brisbane. He immediately made arrangements for Johnson to join the Australian Cricket Academy in Adelaide.
Johnson had a rough start to his career with back injuries being a major threat to his career due to his slinging action. He was an on-off customer in the Australian Cricket team but as the saying goes – patience bears sweet fruits.
Mitchell Johnson helped Australia take revenge on England
Just after the IPL 2013 season concluded, Sachin Tendulkar was quoted saying that he would love to see Johnson bowl in the Ashes. Johnson played a huge role in Mumbai Indians journey to the finals. Johnson did not play in the Ashes series in which the English team triumphed, 4-0.
But the revenge of the wounded tiger was awaiting the Englishmen at the end of 2013 with such a wrath that the Australians even ended a couple of Englishmen’s career for good. Johnson proved too good for the English batsmen. He bullied them with the ball, broke Broad’s leg with a toe crusher and Anderson almost had a ‘Broken F***in arm’. Johnson took 37 wickets in 5 matches at an average of 13.97, thus thumping the founders of cricket.
The fiery Mitch did not stop there! Australia toured South Africa in early 2014 and yet again Johnson was too hot to handle for the South Africans. Steyn did neutralize Johnson’s efforts in the 1st Test by silencing them in the 2nd Test but the mushy man wrecked more misery on the South Africans in the 3rd Test. Australia went on to win the series 2 – 1.
This vicious bouncer to Amla summarizes ‘The Tour of Johnson in South Africa’.
A tame Mitchell Johnson featured in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy
All ended well for Johnson after the South Africa tour as he announced that he would be retiring from all formats of the game and concentrating on Test cricket. This was sent as an open threat to every batsman in the world. One year later, in the ongoing Border – Gavaskar trophy, Mitch was expected to fire all guns blazing against the Indian Team. Some even thought he could become the third bowler in history to grab 10 wickets in an innings.
At present, all of it looks sour. Last one month has been the most ironical series for Johnson. Everyone expected him to bamboozle the Indian batting order. Although Australia has won the series as expected, Johnson has failed to live up to the expectations. We all saw what he did to the England cricket team, same time around in the end of 2013, but he could not repeat the same feat against the Indians.
His bouncers were even hooked and pulled off to the fence a couple of times. The same bouncers which rose up alarmingly into the face of the batsmen, were hooked and slammed. No doubt that he can bowl long spells at a consistent speed and there is no match to his consistency in pace at present.
But was Johnson’s performance a one-time show? Is he really ‘once-in-nine-lives’ kind of fast bowler? He has failed to bowl even a single ball at the speed of 150kph in the ongoing series against India. He doesn’t look that aggressive as he was in the Ashes series nor did he terrorize the Indian Batsmen as he did to the English team. Maybe it all comes down to the untimely death of Phil Hughes, which brought the whole cricketing world as one and a sense of respect developed between the bowler and the batsman.
Yet Johnson could not repeat the feat even after he was sledged by Rohit Sharma. The sledging of Johnson did cost India the 2nd Test under the hands of Johnson but not at the hands of ‘The Johnson who sent shivers down the Englishmen’.
Johnson is now ruled out of the 4th Test in Sydney due to a hamstring injury. He is being rested as a precaution due to the World Cup which is just a month away. Hope we see the same Johnson from the Ashes, which will increase the heat in the upcoming World Cup in Australia and also with the conditions favoring him, we might as well see the Mitch who won the fifth for the Australians.