Mitchell Johnson - The big question
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It was much like the 1970s when Aussie fans used to have their favourite credo, "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, if Lillee doesn't get you, Thommo must". This time, however, it was only Mitchell Johnson who steamed in with four slips, a fly slip, two leg slips, a silly point and a short leg. England blinked with "scared eyes".
Stump mic picked Michael Clarke's warning to Jimmy Anderson about the possibilities of a broken arm. George Bailey went one step further and talked about a broken hand. The Aussie swagger was back and so was the sledging. They were back to the winning ways against England after prolonged sufferings. Johnson made that possible.
A match haul of nine for 103 (a five-for in the second innings) in the first Test and very important contributions with the bat, especially in the first innings (64), made the choice for Man of the Match a formality. Still, it would be a little too premature to talk about redemption. Johnson will continue to be a gamble unless he becomes consistent.
Basically, there's no middle ground with this 32-year-old left-arm quick. Either he's devastating or is awfully leaky, depending on how the radar is working. And the radar recently had gone a bit haywire.
Johnson can cause physical harm with his thunderbolts when he's going full tilt. South Africa Test captain Graeme Smith knows that well.
During the 2008-09 series in Australia, he suffered a broken hand after being hit by a Johnson ripper. In the return series in South Africa, as Smith came back from the injury lay-off, Johnson broke his finger.
Jonathan Trott will agree that Johnson can do grave mental damage as well. Bounced out at The Gabba and then stressed out of the series, the England batsman's international career is now in jeopardy and the whole event (verbals are incidental here) has visibly rattled the Poms. They will lose the urn if Johnson doesn't lose his form. But there lies the big question, and once again, it's a question about the fast bowler's consistency.
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