Mitchell Johnson back to mercurial best in Melbourne
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Mitchell Johnson's Jekyll and Hyde ways have both exhilarated and frustrated cricket fans Down Under for a number of years, and both sides of the paceman were on display as Australia dominated Sri Lanka in the second test on Wednesday.
The 31-year-old, recalled to the side after being dumped for Australia's first-test victory in Hobart, was at his awkward best at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, belted to all corners of the ground in his first spell, before finding his range after lunch with a withering burst of short-pitched bowling.
Johnson, who finished with team-best figures of 4-63 and captured his 200th test victim, provided a glimpse of the seamer who dominated all comers to win the ICC's cricketer of the year award in 2009, as Sri Lanka crumbled to be dismissed for 156.
He might hope Australia's selectors will ignore the early spell, however, when he leaked runs like a burst dam.
"I was nervous for the first over today just because it was Boxing Day," Johnson, who raised a murmur around the ground when he opened the bowling ahead of the ever-reliable Peter Siddle, told reporters.
"I'd never bowled first on a Boxing Day and we've always batted first.
"It was a bit different today with the big crowd, but one I got past that first over I was fine."
The tattoo-ed Queenslander raised the 67,000 crowd into a frenzy by capturing wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene and seamer Dhammika Prasad in successive balls after lunch, but his hat-trick attempt was classically Johnson.
Steaming in with the crowd roaring, he made a mess of his run-up and overstepped the mark to register a no-ball. Spinner Rangana Herath bunted back the ball without fuss, in any case.
"I almost pulled up halfway through my run-up because I was about to smile and I couldn't concentrate," Johnson said.