Johnson is ‘a silent assassin’, says Brett Lee

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“When he’s got that quirky smirk on his face, he means business”

Former Australia pace bowler Brett Lee has announced that left-arm seamer Mitchell Johnson is a “silent assassin” and has the potential to inflict some serious damage on England’s mission of winning their fourth Ashes series in a row, a feat which they have not accomplished since the 1890s.

Johnson has already troubled India with his pace and swing and he is now looking to shake up England with his 150km/h deliveries.

“I just think the thing with Mitchell Johnson is when he’s chilled out, relaxed, enjoying it and got a smile on his face, he’s a silent assassin,” Lee said. “When he’s got that quirky smirk on his face, he means business.”

Lee admitted that “I haven’t seen him bowl as well as he has recently” and was also impressed by the fact that Johnson was consistently hovering around the 150km/h mark and even pushing it up to 155km/h.

“I haven’t seen him bowl as well as he has recently – his run-up, his approach, position at the crease,” Lee said. “He looks nice and sound at the crease, he’s bowling wheels. Over 150km/h is quick. He needs to shake the Poms up.

“The Mitch of 2013-14 should be a good one. The most important thing about Mitchell Johnson right now is the pace and second is the swing. I don’t care who’s batting, if he’s bowling over 150ks swinging the ball, he’ll get wickets.”

Lee added that any top-class batsman would be sweating buckets when facing a bowler who is bowling close to a 100 miles an hour.

“He bowls what they call a heavy ball,” Lee said. “You get bowlers who hit the bat at 140ks and guys who are slightly over who bowl a heavy ball, which hits the bat a lot harder than others – Mitch is like that.”

The former pace bowler also believes it is only a matter of time before Johnson joins him in the highly-respected 100 miles an hour (160km/h) club.

“I hope so – why not?” Lee said. “You don’t want to see bowlers at 130ks. There will be some at 130-140 who are very successful, that was Glenn [McGrath] – he had 563 reasons why he bowled that pace. It proves you don’t have to be at 150km/h to take wickets but Australia need to pick guys that can bowl that pace, and they’ve done it with Mitch.”

Lee is also hoping that the Test venue curators prepare pitches that are lightning fast so that it gives some assistance to the Australian pace bowlers, while also testing the English batsmen.

“Of course they can be shaken up, putting them on decent wickets here that they’re not used to playing on back home,” Lee said. “What I don’t want to see is real slow Australian wickets. I think we should use our best opportunity to try and take wickets. I’d like to see a bit more grass left on it for the Aussie quicks.”

Lee finished off by saying that Australia have a much better chance of regaining the Ashes than they did when they toured England in July.

“I said when they went to England ‘it’s going to be a really tough tour, I don’t think they can do it over there,” he said. “It turned out to be that case purely because they are so good on their own turf. Whereas in Australia it’s a totally different ball game. I think Australia can give it a real shake.”

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