Tearaway quick Mitchell Johnson has accused England of deliberately backing away from fast bowlers as a tactic to unsettle Australia’s pacemen.
It is not uncommon for batsmen to walk away from a delivery if members of the crowd appear in their line of vision – but Johnson says the regularity with which it has happened during the Ashes indicates England are doing it for other reasons.
And the fiery left-armer says he expects Andy Flower’s men to continue to employ it in the fifth and final Test at the SCG, starting on Friday.
“That’s how they play the game and have always played the game since I’ve been playing,” he said on Wednesday.
“It’s always happened so I don’t think they’ll change.
“…It definitely is frustrating when it happens all the time but that’s part of the game, it’s part of their tactics.”
The issue came to a head during the Boxing Day Test when controversial Englishman Kevin Pietersen walked away during Johnson’s run-up – causing the series leading wicket-taker to react angrily.
Johnson pegged the ball in Pietersen’s direction – an action he says he regrets – and shared words soon after.
But Johnson says he won’t be playing nice if England try it again in Sydney.
“The only thing I regret is throwing the ball,” he said.
“I think that was probably a little bit inappropriate but the rest of it was fine.
“I just let (Pietersen) know that he needed to stop doing it.
“The sight screens are big enough, he should be watching the game.
“I won’t back down if it happens again.”
But if it is a tactic – it’s certainly not working.
Johnson, who has taken 31 wickets at 14.32 this series, said he was spurred on by Pietersen’s hasty retreat in Melbourne – where he claimed 3-25 in the second innings.
“Not long after that I got (keeper Jonny) Bairstow out so it was probably a tactic that didn’t work on his behalf that time.”
As Australia chases an astonishing 5-0 cleansweep of England, just four months after losing 3-0 in England, Johnson admitted he felt little sympathy for the old enemy.
Johnson, more than most, has copped flak from a ruthless Barmy Army whose infamous chants took him to his lowest points on the cricket pitch.
But the hurt he felt in the past is simply making his incredible resurrection all the sweeter.
“It’s definitely a lot sweeter to me. I was quite emotional in Perth – I found it difficult to bowl the last two overs,” he said.
“Just the emotions were flowing and all the memories of all the bad times were there and I finally had that urn in my hand.
“Just to prove to myself that I was able to come back and to be able to do it.”