Will Mitchell Johnson be run out for 30?

Joe Karsay Columnist

By Joe Karsay, Joe Karsay is a Roar Expert

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    Mitchell Johnson turned 30 on Wednesday. Speaking from experience, most men use this milestone to question what they have achieved in their life thus far.

    At 30, you would have to say that Mitch is a bowler who has not yet reached his potential. Or perhaps he has?

    In which case, it’s time for him to make way for a true strike bowler to lead our attack. Johnson will be feeling nervous by the inclusion of Pat Cummins in the Test squad.

    Cummins has talisman written all over him, a tag that has never sat comfortably with Johnson.

    The good news is Johnson has started the tour of South Africa very well, with figures of 4/38 and 2/41 (in progress) in the tour game at Potchefstroom. Just as well: Johnson needs another career-saving tour in South Africa.

    Mitch has talent, there is no doubt about it. Any left-armer who can consistently bowl at over 145 kmph is going to be dangerous.

    But Johnson is not a natural swinger of the ball. The conundrum that Johnson has found himself in is that when he bowls fast and swings it – he tends to spray it around.

    But when he bowls with control, he becomes very predictable out of the hand – almost like a bowling machine. In the last few Test series he has bowled fast and straight, but has not looked like taking a bag of wickets.

    Unlike some players, whose technique seems to flow from their soul, Johnson looks like a good athlete whose bowling technique has been trained into him – almost mechanical or robotic.

    He was a late adopter of cricket (having played more tennis in his youth) and it shows. He seems to bring a heavy mind to the bowling crease – weighed down by all the things the bowling coaches have hammered into him over the years.

    Like returning to the nightclub where you had your first kiss – there is nothing like returning to the scene of a previous triumph to get the mojo flowing.

    Johnson’s best ever Test series was last time Australia toured South Africa in 2009. In that series, Johnson managed to harness the holy trinity of bowling: pace, swing and accuracy.

    With its combination of bouncy pitches and swing friendly conditions – this tour of South Africa provides Johnson with his last chance to right the ship.

    His overall Test average of around 30 is good, but his recent form is not. In the recent Test series in Sri Lanka – he did not take more than two wickets in an innings.

    If Australia is to climb back to the top of the world rankings, it needs Johnson to be firing. The thought of having a left/right combination (he and Cummins) both bowling over 150kmph is a mouth-watering one.

    Johnson has also stopped bowling it to second slip – which is encouraging. There comes a time in every player’s career where he must stand up or be stood down.

    Despite having been floored by stress fractures of the back early in his career, you get the feeling, the muscle Johnson finds hardest to control is between his ears.

    Unlike most fast bowlers, the shy Johnson actually needed to be encouraged to become more confrontational out in the middle. He needs to continue to use controlled aggression.

    Dennis Lillee discovered Johnson as a high-potential 17-year old. 13 years and 45 Tests later, he still has a lot to prove.

    This series provides the perfect platform to silence his doubters.

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    The Crowd Says (6)

    • Columnist

      November 4th 2011 @ 10:27am
      Brett McKay said | November 4th 2011 @ 10:27am | ! Report

      Johnson’s taken another five wickets in South Africa A’s second innings, going with the four in the first innings, to help set up Australia’s seven-wicket win in the tour match overnight. Regardless of whether he’s peaked or not, he’s in decent form again, and with Ryan Harris, he’ll be among the first picked for the First Test next week…

    • November 4th 2011 @ 11:03am
      Johnno said | November 4th 2011 @ 11:03am | ! Report

      Id like the selectors to go for this excting trio for 1st test.

      Ryan Harris
      Shane watson to offer bolwing

      so in other words you have 5 quicks forget picking nathan lyon, cropland can bowl all day anyway.

      And tell cummins and johnson to go all out.

      • November 4th 2011 @ 11:10am
        Schtumpy said | November 4th 2011 @ 11:10am | ! Report

        I agree.
        If the selectors asked themselves which of the two bowlers who can bowl all day with economy would take the most wickets in South Africa, they’d have to pick Copeland over Lyons.
        And they bowl at about the same pace…….

    • November 4th 2011 @ 1:46pm
      John said | November 4th 2011 @ 1:46pm | ! Report

      Johnson is probably well enough with the bat to hold his spot, as long as he takes the odd wicket, isn’t too expensive, and grabs the odd 5fer in a series

    • November 4th 2011 @ 1:48pm
      Hospital said | November 4th 2011 @ 1:48pm | ! Report

      Hehe, back to his first kiss hey Joe? Think he’ll do ok over there, he just needs to do well consistently here, at home. MCG Boxing Day, preferably.

    • November 4th 2011 @ 4:25pm
      FT said | November 4th 2011 @ 4:25pm | ! Report

      at his best, he is the most exciting cricketer in the world, whether bowling or batting

      at his worst, unfortunately he can be painful to watch

      he has amazing talent, and I only wish I had a fraction of his

      let’s all hope that his good form continues and the doubters are silenced once and for all

      even though he has turned 30, I still think he needs mentoring and supporting, like the younger players, to get the best out of him

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