The Ashes: When Mitchell Johnson and Kevin Pietersen almost came to blows during a training session
What's the story?
Former Australian fast bowler Mitchell Johnson has shed light on an interesting incident which could have ended with him trading blows with England batsman Kevin Pietersen. In a candid interview with The Telegraph, the 36-year old opened up on his verbal altercation with his fierce rival on the eve of the 2009 Ashes series opener in Cardiff.
Taking a trip down memory lane to revisit the morning of the Test match eight years ago, Johnson claimed that Pietersen had been deliberately hitting balls in the direction of the Australian camp. He was allegedly trying to wind up the visitors. The situation took a turn for the worse when the maverick batsman did not pay heed to the fast bowler's words.
Johnson revealed, "Whether it was polite enough, I don't know, but Kevin Pietersen definitely plays the game pretty well, the mental game, and decided to hit a few more balls in our direction. I kicked a tennis ball away in his direction, and the blow-up started from there. I walked towards him and he walked towards me and words were exchanged and it got quite heated and personal. Stuart Clark, I think, pulled me away at the time and I think Paul Collingwood was close to KP and got in the middle of him as well. It was definitely spicy at the start of the series, as it should be. I think an Ashes series has to have that bit of spice."
In the past...
Johnson's concerns emanated from the freakish injury suffered by the legendary Glenn McGrath during the 2005 Ashes series. The iconic seamer stepped inadvertently on a stray cricket ball during a warm-up session on the morning of the Edgbaston Test.
Mcgrath missed the second Test as well as the fourth Test at Trent Bridge. England won both matches to reclaim the Ashes urn after 16 long years.
The heart of the matter
When Johnson cited McGrath's example in the previous Ashes series on English soil and requested him to veer clear from the Australian camp's vicinity at the Sophia Gardens, Pietersen apparently responded by hitting a few more balls in their direction. It was quite clear that the aggressive right-hander was intending to get under the skin of his opponent on the eve of an important match.
Needless to say, Johnson was not going to take Pietersen's actions in the chin. He showed his displeasure by kicking away a tennis ball in the England star's direction. Things got heated when the two strong personalities got themselves embroiled in a war of words with each other. However, Clark and Collingwood separated the sparring duo before the incident could turn uglier.
The ensuing Test match eventually ended in stalemate. However, England regained the Ashes with a 2-1 victory in the 2009 series.
During the 2018 edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL), Johnson and Pietersen will get another opportunity to resume their riveting rivalry. While the veteran fast bowler was picked up by Karachi Kings in the recently completed Player Draft, the experienced batsman had been retained by Quetta Gladiators. The upcoming season of the Twenty20 tournament is expected to begin on February next year.
Fortunately for both camps, Clark and Collingwood intervened at the right time in order to prevent what could have become an infamous brawl. Johnson's opinion is probably reasonable as such incidents do add to the fascination of the Ashes rivalry.