Calcutta: Mitchell Johnson has welcomed England’s intention to try to hit their way out of the barrage of bouncers with a simple message: “Go ahead.”
Reaching speeds of more than 150km per hour, the left-arm fast bowler has been almost unplayable at times through a series of lethal spells that have turned the Ashes heavily in Australia’s favour.
In the 32-year-old’s only appearance in Perth this season, for Western Australia in a Sheffield Shield match against South Australia, he turned back the clock to the days of Jeff Thomson with one extraordinary delivery that flew over the wicketkeeper’s head, bounced and crashed into the sight screen at the Gloucester Park end.
The pitch being used for the third Test is tipped to be even quicker.
“It’s a different wicket to what it was in Adelaide. It was pretty flat and pretty slow towards the end and balls weren’t really getting up,” Johnson was quoted as saying in the Sydney Morning Herald.
“It’s a lot easier to get a short ball here, which I’m not going to be afraid of using.”
Matt Prior had said England’s batsmen could not afford to attempt to defend in an effort to dig themselves out of the hole against Johnson and the Australian attack.
“I would hate to see this team, with the batting talent we have, just going out there trying to survive,” he said.
“That’s not the way we’re going to win in Australia, walking out all timid. We have to find ways of putting pressure back on the Aussie bowlers, and that’s the way I hope we’ll play.”
Johnson responded: “If that’s the way they think they can score, then go ahead.”
“You can either be a bit lippy, or just a little smile here or there can make the batsman think,” he said. “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.
“It’s a cute little smile that he (Root) has got. 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.”
Former Australian captain Allan Border, meanwhile, believes the tourists are capable of getting themselves back in the contest.
“We’ve got to keep the hand on the throat now because England are a dangerous side,” Border said on Wednesday. “This will be a real danger game in that they’re 0-2 down and they’ve got nothing to lose.
“That ‘go for broke’ mentality might be what they need.”