‘Mitchell Johnson has been absolutely exceptional’, says Nick Compton

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“At the moment, Australia have got someone with exceptional skill in Mitchell Johnson, who is bowling exceptionally quickly”

England opening batsman Nick Compton has admitted that Australia left-arm pace bowler Mitchell Johhnson “has been absolutely exceptional” throughout the ongoing Ashes series.

Johnson has tormented England in the first two Tests, taking 17 wickets at a jaw-dropping average of 12.70.

“Mitchell Johnson has been absolutely exceptional,” Compton said. “Cricket is a game of skill and if you have skill that’s superior to the opposition you’re going to end up on the right side. At the moment, Australia have got someone with exceptional skill in Mitchell Johnson, who is bowling exceptionally quickly.

“It’s a difficult one [for England’s batsmen] to come to terms with because some players will be going out there thinking ‘I’m going to take Mitchell Johnson on and put the onus back on Australia’ but, if you look at him as being the difference between the two teams, it’s about trying to blunt him.

“It might look negative to be defensive but actually you’re getting him later in the day, taking him into the second day and that’s something England haven’t done yet. Games are finishing early and haven’t gone the full five days.

“[England need to think:] ‘by hook or by crook I’m not going to let him get me out but I’m going to play the other bowlers’.

“We [played the other bowlers] in the summer and we won that battle.”

Compton also conceded that all the England batsmen have been rattled by Johnson, but added that they must keep him at bay if they are to have any chance of salvaging the series and retaining the Ashes for a fourth time in a row, a feat which they have not accomplished since the 1890s.

“Matt Prior has spoken about each individual working out his way [of playing Johnson] and [England coaches] Andy Flower and Graham Gooch will be trying to empower those guys to make their own decision,” Compton said. “Is it a case of going after the short ball? Is it a case of surviving? Each individual will have his own way of going about it.

“But self-belief becomes clouded when you don’t have a plan.

“There’s no worse feeling as a batsman, when you’ve got the chance to bat for a whole day and set up the platform for the team, giving your wicket away and playing a poor shot.”

Compton, who was snubbed for this series, still believes England can bounce back, despite being 2-0 down.

“England haven’t had the best start to the tour in terms of preparation and the teams they’ve faced have been fairly weak,” he said. “Some of England’s senior players haven’t performed either and when you put that together it accounts for some of the problems they’re having.

“But they’ve been challenged a lot over the last year and they’ve come back. For example, in India we got thumped in the first Test match and came back and won.”

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