Ashes 2015: Only the mettle of Mitchell Johnson and David Warner gave this Ozzy lover anything to cheer

The Aussie Angle: Some Heads Are Gonna Roll could soon be in the Australia selectors' iPod mix

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The Independent Online

Birmingham is home to two of the most influential heavy metal bands of all time, Black Sabbath and Judas Priest – and I love them both.

To borrow a song title from the Ozzy Osbourne-led Black Sabbath, Mitchell Johnson is Australia’s “Iron Man”. The oldest member of the Aussies’ fast-bowling cadre at 33 years of age, he is still a superb athlete, has rarely been injured in his international career and retains the unique ability to bowl express pace.

A great example of this was his opening spell which featured both pace and bounce. The two “perfume balls” – batsmen can smell the leather – to Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes reignited Australia’s hopes.

Bairstow is averaging 100 this season for Jason Gillespie’s Yorkshire, and Alastair Cook said he had “forced his way into the team”. However, nothing prepares you for 90mph left-arm slinging hostility from a quick bowler with a mean ’tash.

Statistically he joined an elite company of Australia bowlers with 300 Tests wickets. Not bad having Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Dennis Lillee and Brett Lee for club-mates. Well done, Mitch.

 

Just the one maiden from 31.1 overs for the young quicks Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc suggests both struggled to consistently bowl their stock ball. Both are emerging fast bowlers for Australia with so much to offer but they need to tighten up both line and length. Both have the basic requirements of fast bowling, good pace and some swing, but they need to maximise their steep, bouncing stock ball regularly to hit the splice of the bat.

My other favourite heavy metal band out of Birmingham is Judas Priest, the “Metal Gods”. The Australia batsmen needed to “Deliver The Goods” in their second innings to get their side back in a winning position and, unfortunately, only Dave Warner did. He is Australia’s “secondinningsologist”, averaging over 50 in the second half of Test matches, and his half-century here was the equal fastest in balls (35) in Ashes history. Warner joins my old South Melbourne captain and coach Graham “Wally” Yallop in sharing the record. I was surprised Wally has such a record, as he was known more for his exquisite timing than power.

I remember playing in his last club game for the “Bloods” when he was bowling to former Australia quick Ian “Mad Dog” Callen. Wally got to his release point when “Mad Dog”, who had kept his head down while he waited to face the first ball, looked up and blew a party whistle out of his mouth which slowly rolled out in Wally’s direction. With that, 11 South Melbourne fielders collapsed. Bit like the Australia top order.

Peter Nevill played a very mature knock after coming in at a time when wickets were falling like the Aussie dollar. Good balls were let go or blocked, straight deliveries worked through the leg side, off-side shots were hit with a full face of the bat. Not a bad gameplan at all.

“Defenders of the Faith” is my favourite Priest album and the second single of the album, “Some Heads Are Gonna Roll”, could be in the Australia selectors’ iPod mix. Adam Voges is 35 and scored a century on debut earlier in the year against West Indies. He also had a prolific summer at home. And to be fair to the Australia selectors there are no younger batsmen really unlucky not to be in this squad.

But at the age of 35 it is about scoring runs in real time, something Voges hasn’t done in this series. He has got 73 at an average of 14 and the older Marsh brother, Shaun, should come into the team at Trent Bridge next week.

I don’t know if James Anderson has done a “grunter muscle” before but it’s very painful. Just about every quick that’s played the game has torn the side muscle at least once. Unless it’s a very minor strain, his Ashes series will be over.

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