Mitchell Johnson has experienced enough of the vagaries of form and fortune to sympathise with Michael Beer and the maiden Test wicket that wasn't. Alastair Cook was reprieved by umpire Billy Bowden's late call to check the legality of the Beer delivery that removed the England opener and Johnson, who suffered similarly in the previous Test, gave voice to the concerns in the home dressing room over use of the review system.
Cook top-edged an attempted plant over mid-wicket against the debutant left-armer. The ball was comfortably caught by Ben Hilfenhaus and Cook headed for the pavilion only to be called back by Kevin Pietersen. Replays showed Beer to have overstepped.
"Having been in that situation, I probably don't like how the system works," said Johnson. "It can be frustrating. If umpires think it's a no-ball they should call it rather than waiting. That is where the review system isn't that great. It has happened a couple of times now and we need to improve it. Everyone will have different opinions. I guess you just have to get your foot behind the line."
That is very much the view of the England camp and the sight of a spinner overstepping is not one likely to attract much sympathy. James Anderson said: "It's good cricket, because the correct decision comes out in the end. We think it's a very important part of our job to stay behind the line."
Johnson had Matt Prior caught behind, five runs into his innings of 85 in Melbourne, before he was also belatedly called for overstepping. Over the series Australia have been penalised for no-balls nearly three times more often than England; 19 to seven.
Beer finished his nine overs on day two, the first of his Test career, without a wicket. "You could see the reaction on his face when he was called for it," said Johnson. "It was disappointing for him that he couldn't claim his first wicket. I think the way he handled himself after that and the way he bowled were good signs for us.
"It looked like he spun the ball well and got a bit of drift. Pietersen got after him a bit at the start but then he started to get some drift and shut him down."
The mercurial Johnson added two late wickets to his earlier half-century as he continued his extraordinarily inconsistent series. After his half-century elevated the Australian total towards respectability, he was given the new ball, a rare honour in recent times. "That gave me a lot of confidence," he said. "I think my pace was up again and I did swing the ball a little bit there and use the wicket. I enjoyed it. The conditions suited me."
He also enjoyed playing under Michael Clarke's captaincy. "Michael probably gets out there a little more from my side of things. He came up to me and spoke to me and he has been doing it to most players," said Johnson. "He sent me a message the other night, saying a few nice things and making sure I'm ready. He's doing a great job being confident around the guys."Reuse content