One ap­peal could give John­son 300

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - BEN HORNE

AUSSIE fire­brand Mitchell John­son is one wicket away from join­ing an elite club af­ter rip­ping through the Eng­land line- up at Lord’s.

With one more wicket, John­son will join Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Dennis Lillee and Brett Lee with 300 Test wick­ets.

As the left- armer champs at the bit on 299 for the next nine days, Aus­tralian cap­tain Michael Clarke has re­vealed he made a con­scious de­ci­sion at Lord’s to let John­son off the leash and re­vert to the at­tack- dog tac­tics that dec­i­mated Eng­land 5- 0 in the 2013- 14 Down Un­der Ashes sum­mer.

Left- armer John­son tore open men­tal scars in the Eng­land top or­der with six wick­ets across both in­nings at Lord’s, lev­el­ling the se­ries.

John­son bowled no more than four overs in a row all match, and as Eng­land crum­bled to be all out for 103 on the fourth and fi­nal day of the sec­ond Test, he was given a li­cence to de­stroy with three and even twoover raids.

“I think I used him a lit­tle bit bet­ter in this Test than I did in Cardiff,” Clarke said.

“The whole at­tack de­serves credit be­cause the way they bowled al­lows me to use Mitchell the way I did in this Test match.”

Dur­ing the Cardiff slump, it was ob­vi­ous from day one that Aus­tralia was off the boil.

Clarke said he could tell be­fore a ball was even bowled at Lord’s that his se­nior core led by John­son was ready to breathe fire.

“I al­ways look at train­ing,’’ he said. ‘‘ I can tell be­fore a ball is bowled in the game how I think we’re go­ing to go and the boys were switched on.

“I sensed that hunger, from the se­nior play­ers in par­tic­u­lar.

“They lead that and the younger play­ers, they’ve got that en­thu­si­asm and hunger any­way be­cause they want to get out there and play.

“But I sensed that hunger for suc­cess from the se­nior play­ers and we’re go­ing to need that if we want to con­tinue to have suc­cess in this se­ries.”

John­son and fel­low pace aces Josh Ha­zle­wood and Mitchell Starc now get the chance to put their feet up in Lon­don, ex­empt from Aus­tralia’s tour match against Der­byshire start­ing later this week.

Coach Dar­ren Lehmann said the sec­ond Test was proof that John­son’s 37wicket Ashes sum­mer of 2013- 14 was no flash in the pan.

“He was bril­liant,” said Lehmann. “He bowled fast.

‘‘ He’s had some dif­fi­cult times in Eng­land in the past but he’s a dif­fer­ent Mitchell John­son you see play­ing for Aus­tralia now.”

This was a dead wicket where Eng­land only man­aged to take 10 wick­ets for the match, yet Aus­tralia’s ar­se­nal was able to dom­i­nate.

“Our whole bowl­ing group were fan­tas­tic, even ‘ Mitch’ Marsh,” Lehmann said.

“And I thought Nathan Lyon bowled beau­ti­fully as well on the fi­nal day and in the first in­nings.’’

SPEED DE­MON: Aus­tralia’s Mitchell John­son ap­peals on the fourth day of the sec­ond Ashes Test against Eng­land at Lord’s. Pic­ture: KIRSTY WIGGLESWORTH

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