As if he had not done enough damage, Mitchell Johnson verbally bounced England on Wednesday. In a press conference in Perth, his home town, the fastest bowler in the world announced that Australia would continue bouncing their opponents.
“I think it’s worked for us. I definitely think they’re rattled by it,” he said. “They don’t like it at all. Obviously their coach has come out and wanted a truce, from what I’ve heard. That’s not going to change from our end.”
Johnson, like all the players, made light of the sledging in the first Test at Brisbane, which has exercised attention worldwide. Michael Clarke, Australia’s captain, was fined 20 per cent of his match fee for suggesting to the England No 11 batsman (and fast bowler) that he was about to have his arm broken.
“It was pretty quiet the whole match until close to the end,” said Johnson. “We know there is definitely tension there – there always has been.
“I thought it was really good what Michael did, as a captain. That’s what you want your captain to do – stand up for the players– and that’s what he did.
“It just happened to be that the stump mic was up at that time. It’s nothing unusual, but I was really happy with how he stood up for the team.” And so the tittle-tattle goes on.
On Friday England may or may not provide a clue to their reshuffled pack for the second Test. Alice Springs is probably the last place on earth (or at least in Australia) that they would have expected to try to refine the starting XI for an Ashes match,
The tourists need a new No 3 batsman and therefore almost certainly another player lower down the middle order. It is almost certain too that they are looking for another bowler, probably a seamer, just possibly a second spinner.
The side to play the Chairman’s XI at Traeger Park is unlikely to be the team that plays the Test. All five members of the squad who did not play in the first Test at The Gabba are likely to be given a run out. In Monty Panesar’s case it may be his first and only game of the tour.
Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow and Gary Ballance are nominally competing for one batting place. It is difficult to believe that a strong performance against the Chairman’s XI will swing the vote but runs, as they say, are runs.
Tim Bresnan returned to action with an unbeaten half-century for the England Performance Programme, on his comeback after a stress fracture of the back. England will be more keenly awaiting a report on Bresnan’s bowling, once he has the opportunity, against Queensland 2nd XI in Brisbane.
It is hoped the 28-year-old can prove his fitness in the four-day match, which got under way on Wednesday, and therefore be added to the full squad before the second Test.