Mitchell Johnson’s recently released autobiography, which has been aptly named Resilient, is turning out to be quite a fascinating read. After hilarious and intriguing incidents such as Shane Watson sticking his head into the toilet, the 34-year old opened upon his experiences with the Barmy Army whilst revealing how Matt Prior goaded England fans into taunting him personally.
The former left-arm pacer played in four Ashes series including two away from home and produced numerous memorable spells which turned out to be game-changing. However, England supporters often tried to rile him up by targeting his propensity to bowl inaccurate spells at times as well as his eventful personal life. They even designed a song taunting him – ‘He bowls to the left, he bowls to the right, that Mitchell Johnson, his bowling is shite.’
With the action between the sport’s oldest rivals getting intense during most occasions, some of more colorful players’ personal lives were not spared by their rival supporters. Johnson had married former model and karate black belt holder Jessica Bratich who was rumored to have a tumultuous relationship with his mother. The Barmy Army mocked him by singing The Addams Family, a satire created by the famous American cartoonist.
Looking back on his clashes against English supporters, Johnson admitted, “England knew they had their foot on my throat and they weren't going to let me up. When I batted, the close fielders sang the Barmy Army songs. I found out later that Matt Prior had texted the leader of the Army and told them to keep at me because they could see it had got under my skin. He was right. The songs had got into my head. Even though I hated them, I found myself singing them. It was almost like I was taunting myself.”
The southpaw’s love affair with his arch-rivals began on a bouncy WACA surface when he routed a strong batting line-up with figures of 17.3-5-38-6 in the first innings. The 2013/14 series at home saw a mustachioed Johnson single-handedly dismantling England by picking up a whopping 37 wickets and helping Australia inflict a 5-0 whitewash. Operating at a fearsome pace, he preyed on their mentally-shot psyches mercilessly.
Even though Johnson was not able to replicate his brutal performances on English soil as evidenced by the hat-trick of Ashes losses for Australia away from home, his 5/69 at Headingley resulted in an innings victory for the Aussies. Eventually, he bowed out from the international arena with 313 scalps from 73 Tests at an average of 28.40 with 12 five-wicket hauls and 3 ten-wicket hauls.