Image courtesy of: The Telegraph
“Mitch’s spells certainly match the greats I’ve seen, if not better”
Australia captain Michael Clarke has announced that left-arm pace bowler Mitchell Johnson has “bowled a couple of spells through this series that are without [a] doubt as good a spell as I’ve ever seen in my career”.
Johnson was the leading wicket-taker in the recently concluded Ashes series with 37 wickets at a fantastic average of 13.97, which subsequently earned him the Man of the Series award.
“Man of the Series, who would have thought, except me and probably Mitch?” Clarke said. “He’s been an amazing bowler for a long time. He’s bowled with a lot of aggression. To be able to bowl at that pace is one thing; to be able to do every single innings and back it up is an amazing achievement.
“Mitch has bowled a couple of spells through this series that are without doubt as good a spell as I’ve ever seen in my career. I’ve been lucky enough to play with Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie, Brett Lee, Shane Warne…Mitch’s spells certainly match the greats I’ve seen, if not better.
“He’s copped a lot of criticism through his career – he’s been dropped – and no-one in the world can doubt Mitchell Johnson’s character ever again. He’s as tough a cricketer as I’ve played with. To have the attitude and hunger to say ‘no I’m not giving up, I’m going to come back’ is a credit to him.”
Johnson himself admitted to being quite nervous when he was given the ball during the first Test in Brisbane, especially after what happened in the 2010-11 Ashes series, where he was taunted by the crowd, which led to a substantial deterioration in his performance.
“For me, I was quite nervous at the start for good reason, I guess, after what’s happened in the past,” Johnson said. “But they were good nerves and once I got past that and got into my rhythm and stuck to the plans and having the support of Michael and knowing I was going to bowl in short spells, I could be aggressive and go hard at their batters and it really did set the tone, that first Test match.
“That just stuck with us, especially seeing their tail and they way they were jumping around, they did look quite nervous with that bouncy fast Gabba wicket. Like Michael said, that was something we spoke about at Allan Border field. That definitely set the tone throughout this whole series.”
Johnson added that it was great to see the entire Australian bowling attack working together like a well-oiled machine throughout the entire series.
“It was just a great feeling for the bowling unit to get through five Test matches, ” Johnson said. “We’ve had the experience, guys like Peter Siddle have played 50 Test matches now and Ryan Harris has got through five Test matches bowling on one leg apparently. He’s done exceptionally well, and Nathan Lyon, what he did today and in the last Test match, so I think as a bowling unit we really set the tone in that first Test and stuck with it.
“We just felt really good out there throughout this whole Test series. The support staff being able to get us through, I’m absolutely exhausted now, it’s a huge relief to get through the Test series but we all feel confident that we can play back-to-back cricket, we’ve shown that. We can keep the accuracy up and keep working really well as a unit. We’d like to play a lot more cricket together I’m sure.”