Ashes 2013-14: Mitchell Johnson on a high for the home comforts of Perth
Australia can hardly believe what is happening. Two weeks ago as the Ashes series was about to start, the mood was one of despair and lament for the years of glory long past.
Two huge victories later and it is clear that the Poms had it coming to them all along. The first Test was won by 381 runs, the second by 218, 56 minutes into the fifth day. With the third match in Perth looming, the talk is not only of regaining the urn lost in England in 2009 but of the third 5-0 whitewash in the history of the contest.
When they were beaten 3-0 in England in the summer, there is no doubt that Australia felt hard done by, that they had pushed England much harder than that scoreline made it appear. There is no doubt also, it would now seem, that they were correct.
“Even in England, we would have said the same, we thought as a team that we were a lot closer than what the results showed, a 3-0 defeat,” said Michael Clarke, Australia’s captain, on Monday. “So I can’t answer the question as to why we have won the first two Test matches so convincingly.
“It’s a positive for our team but I think these two wins are satisfying because of the work we have put in over a long period of time. In our opinion, as players, it’s not a fluke that we have won the first two Test matches. It’s hard work that we put in in the UK and we thought we were so close but we didn’t get over the line.”
There is a tendency to put it all down to the dramatic reintroduction to the team of Mitchell Johnson, who has bowled like the wind and instilled fear into the hearts and minds of the English. Clarke was at pains to allay that sentiment and did a splendid job of spreading the love after Peter Siddle ended England’s second innings with four wickets and Ryan Harris with three.
“This hasn’t just been a five-second turnaround,” Clarke said. “Mitch has done an amazing job. But it hasn’t just been Mitchell Johnson who has turned this team around. I certainly want the whole attack to get the credit they deserve for the performances they have put in in the first two Test matches.
“He has always been an X-factor, with bat, with ball, he’s as good an athlete in the field as you’ll see. Mitch has always had that. It’s just about working out how to use him best in your team.
“Our attack right now really complement each other so it allows Mitch to be used the way I feel is best for our team.
“He’s been our new-ball bowler, he’s bowled first-change, he’s bowled 12-over spells. Whatever’s required, he can do that.”
Johnson is a man redeemed. His two previous Ashes series have both ended in defeat for the team and, largely, personal failure. He now has 17 wickets in this series at 12.7 runs each and is bowling at speeds of up to 95mph.
His home is in Perth, he loves bowling at The Waca. “I’m going out there trying to bowl the way that I want to bowl,” he said. “I’m bowling in short spells, that is what Michael has wanted me to do through this series so far, and it’s something that I have really enjoyed doing. I guess having that intimidation factor is definitely a bonus.
“Mentally, I was on a high after the Brisbane Test but people around me definitely helped me get back into the right state of mind. I need to prepare for the next Test. Going back home, I’m looking forward to getting around friends and family, relaxing for a couple of days and making sure I’m ready.” For England the prospect sounds absolutely horrendous.
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