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A cautious “Welcome Back Mitch”

Andrew Sutherland Roar Guru

By Andrew Sutherland, Andrew Sutherland is a Roar Guru

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    Mitchell Johnson must be rested in the last Ashes Test (AAP).

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    Earlier this year I farewelled Mitchell Johnson. I realise it’s very ungracious of me to say this but I was hoping he wouldn’t return.

    It’s not that I don’t like the guy. He appears to be a lovely chap: he’s not a sledger and he’s quick to enquire after batsmen who have had their bones shattered by him.

    It’s not that he defied my prediction, or because I’m slightly miffed that a bloke with a goofy smile and the nickname of “Chomps” has women chasing him into nightclub toilets.

    And it’s not like the 2009 ICC Cricketer of the Year can’t play…extremely well. He has just passed fellow slinger Jeff Thomson’s 200 Test wickets and his bowling average is comparable to those of  James Anderson and Morne Morkel.

    He also has a decent batting average of 23 which has been accrued with some style: scoring the highest number of runs in an over by an Australian, and once belting Dale Steyn for six to bring up a century.

    No, the reason I didn’t want Mitchell Guy Johnson to return is because of what he does when he isn’t playing extremely well i.e. playing extraordinarily badly.

    When he wasn’t on song he was lucky to get the ball on the pitch. He could do to a cricket ball what a sprinkler does to water, and that mechanised run up of his made it all the more annoying.

    As the openers picked him off and gained easy momentum Johnson didn’t appear to care – though I’m sure he did – or know what was wrong. Like most naturally gifted sportspeople, when asked about their poor form, Johnson would say he believed in his ability and just had to “work hard”.

    There were many theories on the cause of his waywardness such as the difficult-to-control slinging action, the position of his wrist, the length of his run up, the excessive time spent on fashion shoots, his mental fragility, and a dearth of bowlers capable of threatening his position in the national team.

    When he broke down at the end of the South African tour it all seemed academic. Other seasoned bowlers had surpassed him and at least three future stars had appeared.

    However, twelve months on Johnson finds himself back in the team thanks partly to some good Sheffield Shield performances but mainly to a rotation policy and an unbelievably long injury list (by the way, where has Ryan Harris got to?).

    After two appearances he has 12 wickets, a 92 not out and a man of the match award.

    Now again, Johnson has put his apparent improvement down to believing in himself, working hard (without telling us what it was he worked hard on) and being mentally and physically refreshed. It could also be the maturity gained from becoming a father, or finally having to fight for a position on the team.

    Whatever the reason, there is no denying that an in form Johnson is a potent addition to Australia’s armoury.

    It pains me to say it but: “Welcome back Mitch!”

    PS  You better not be up to your old tricks.

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    The Crowd Says (26)

    • December 30th 2012 @ 7:44am
      Rob said | December 30th 2012 @ 7:44am | ! Report

      He is in great form now….but the ashes and those taunting English crowds are a long way off. He’s in for an absolute shocker once more I think.

    • December 30th 2012 @ 10:18am
      pj said | December 30th 2012 @ 10:18am | ! Report

      being a big fan of mj’s, it is pleasing to see him back in the team. i love watching those searing inswinging toe crushers and those brutal lifting deliveries(off a good length mind you) there is no doubt there is no more destructive bowler around when on song. this time round, i think the song will play longer for him. think clarkey will bring best out of him also.

      • Roar Guru

        December 31st 2012 @ 1:44am
        Cameron Kellett said | December 31st 2012 @ 1:44am | ! Report


        Completely agree.

        One thing I believe Ricky Ponting lacked in his later career was a sense of direction. There were times when Johnson would bowl at one end and another bowler at the other end and yet persist with the same routine until the bowlers were bowled into the ground. Clarke on the other hand (albeit with the aid of a rotation policy) has nurtured the players coming in. it seems he has the same direction punter had when he took over Waugh. Hopefully pup doesn’t become stagnate so quick and recognises when something is working and when it isn’t.

        Johnson is not being over worked either which aids his aggression and consistency i.e. the current form and reminiscent days of the South Africa tour where he broke a fair bit of bones there.

    • December 30th 2012 @ 10:41am
      Chui said | December 30th 2012 @ 10:41am | ! Report

      Id written him off as well. It has been good for him of late.

      Who wouldnt like to see it continue. Its exciting when he’s bowling well. It’s funny how his batting is technically sound compared to his bowling.

      Maybe maturing has been kind to him. Maybe being pilloried has reminded him that the opportunity to represent your country shouldn’t be taken for granted. Maybe his wife and mother have patched things up. Who knows.

      It would be really nice to see some support for the guy instead of the death riding that seems common practice. If he fails again, so be it. But lets wait until that actually happens.

      • Roar Guru

        December 31st 2012 @ 1:46am
        Cameron Kellett said | December 31st 2012 @ 1:46am | ! Report

        Amen or people can learn to be grateful and appreciate the efforts being put in by all as Australian cricket will look to continue development and nurture our future stars into greats of the game. Before we know it, with a bit of Patience, Australia will be number 1 again soon.

    • Roar Guru

      December 30th 2012 @ 10:42am
      TheGenuineTailender said | December 30th 2012 @ 10:42am | ! Report

      I’m so scared that Johnson will revert back to his old ways though. If he keeps firing, we’re in for a treat, but we’ve all seen how utterly rubbish his form can become.

      • Roar Guru

        December 31st 2012 @ 1:38am
        Cameron Kellett said | December 31st 2012 @ 1:38am | ! Report


        Don’t know if you have realised but this is part and parcel of any sport let a lone cricket. Johnson whether consistent or not need no judgement for the efforts put in to at least be provided with another shot..

        Plenty former greats have been dropped throughout their career only to bounce back.

        Current crop – Michael Clarke, Hughes, Johnson. Clarke and Johnson might I add are doing a fine job.

    • December 30th 2012 @ 10:59am
      Brendon said | December 30th 2012 @ 10:59am | ! Report

      Watching him single handedly give England the ashes was so much fun…..I’m not a fan, he has a lot of work to do between now and England. One thing I will say is Clarkey won’t bowl him on those big long spells like Ponting did so that would be helpful. His mental toughness is still in question, lets face it, he bowled ok at the WACA (home pitch and the best pitch in the world for quicks, Steyn was much better than him also), was lucky against an insipid SL, I saw Sanga hit him for three fours in an over, I didn’t see Bird cop that treatment. I don’t think we should be so hasty in proclaiming the re-birth of MJ, throw caution to the wind, England in England in front of the English fans is a totally different proposition

    • December 30th 2012 @ 1:00pm
      Christo the Daddyo said | December 30th 2012 @ 1:00pm | ! Report

      I wouldn’t be getting carried away with a couple of broken Sei Lankan fingers just yet. This is just par for the course for Johnson – a couple of good performances, followed by months of crap.

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