Ashes 2015: No, we're not frightened by Mitchell Johnson's pace, says Moeen Ali

All-rounder responds to former Australian PM's claims that England were 'spooked' by the fast-bowler

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The Independent Online

Moeen Ali has hit back at claims from Australia’s former Prime Minister John Howard that England’s batsmen have “psychological issues” in dealing with the pace of Mitchell Johnson.

Howard, a self-confessed “cricket tragic”, made the assertion during a speech at King’s College London on Tuesday evening, saying that England were “spooked” by Johnson and the rest of Australia’s fast bowlers following their crushing 405-run defeat in the second Ashes Test at Lord’s on Sunday.

Johnson took 37 wickets during Australia’s 5-0 whitewash in the last series between the teams in the winter of 2013-14 and was back to his best at Lord’s, as his team recovered spectacularly from their  169-run defeat in the opening Test at Cardiff by routing England for 103 in their second innings at Lord’s to seal a huge win.

Moeen, though, says that, rather than focusing on the shortcomings of England’s batsmen, Australia should be more worried about the lack of runs among some of their own top six ahead of next week’s third Test at Edgbaston.

While the top three of Chris Rogers, David Warner and Steve Smith are all in good touch, nobody else in the touring party apart from Johnson has made a half-century in the first two Tests.

 

“We had a couple of bad starts but every batter has got some sort of score,” Moeen said, “whereas them guys have got only a few guys like Rogers, Smith and Warner who have made scores. Not all of them have got runs.

“Personally, I am not worried about it. I know he [Johnson] bowled really well in one innings out of four. But at Cardiff we took it to him and he went for a lot of runs and did not take many wickets.”

One thing Moeen insists England will need to show more of is fight when the third Test starts at Edgbaston next Wednesday.

“The sad thing is we didn’t show any fight, we rolled over a bit and never showed the fight we needed to show,” he said of the second-innings capitulation at Lord’s.

“Even if we were going to lose we should have shown a bit more steel.”

 Yet with the series level at 1-1 heading into the third Test, England have everything to play for.

“I think we just put Lord’s to one side and put it to bed now,” said Moeen. “It’s done now, we can’t really think about it too much. They played really well and never gave us a sniff.

“Hopefully, in this game we can take the lead straight away. The first day has been really important in this series so we need to take charge of the game before they do and try and keep them down when we’ve got them down, just like they did to us in the last game.”

Moeen will return to his roots at Edgbaston. The  all-rounder grew up a stone’s throw from the ground in Birmingham’s Sparkhill district.

Speaking as part of a Chance to Shine Street event in the city, supported by Lycamobile, he said: “It will be great. I still consider it as my home ground. It’s my home city, where I grew up and I’m really looking forward to it.

“I’ve not played a Test match here before – just a T20 and a one-dayer – but loads of my family are going to come down, so I can’t wait.”

It was in that one-off Twenty20 match against India last summer that Moeen was booed by a crowd largely dominated by Anglo-Indians, provoked by his Pakistani heritage.

 “Obviously I was upset,” he said. “It was more because it was my home city but I’m over it now and I’m not expecting to get booed in this game.”