Calcutta: One isn’t sure whether it’s because of his moustache, but Mitchell Johnson has discovered the machismo in his bowling like never before.
From someone who wasn’t even thought important enough to be in Australia’s Ashes squad six odd months back to the one who terrorised the England batsmen over five Tests — Johnson’s zero-to-hero story is as colourful as fiction.
Almost every time the left-arm pacer had the ball in his hand, Michael Clarke sniffed a wicket while Alastair Cook, probably, closed his eyes fearing disaster. No doubt then that Johnson finished the five-match series with astonishing numbers — 37 wickets from five matches at an average of 13.97.
Clarke couldn’t be blamed when he ranked Johnson’s bowling in this series alongside Aussie greats like Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Jason Gillespie and Brett Lee.
Johnson was deservedly chosen the Man of the Series. But the fiery bowler revealed that he didn’t do anything extraordinary than just sticking to the plans.
“I had good nerves… Once I got into my rhythm and we stuck to the plans with the support of (Michael) Clarke, I could do my job. Knowing that I was going to bowl in short spells, I could be aggressive and could go hard at the English batsmen,” Johnson said after the Sydney Test.
Johnson made a mark as early as the second day of the first Test in Brisbane when he triggered a collapse in the visitors’ batting line-up. The bowler agreed that that spell set the tone for the series. “That spell in the first Test set the tone… That stuck with us for the rest of the series, especially seeing their tail jumping around the way did,” he said.
But despite the euphoria of success, it was an extremely taxing series for the Australian team since the same XI played in all the five Tests. Johnson admitted that he, too, is tired, but added that the Aussies can play back-to-back cricket.
“I’m absolutely exhausted now… It’s a huge relief to finish the Test series, but we all feel confident we can play back-to-back cricket… We’ve shown that, keeping our speeds up, keeping our accuracy up and continuing to work well as a bowling unit.”