Ready to rip the joint on green grass like home John­son eyes up dou­ble mile­stone

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - BEN HORNE

MITCHELL John­son may be one of the most her­culean fast bowlers that’s ever been, yet Eng­land are still look­ing to roll out the green car­pet for him to hunt down his 300th ca­reer vic­tim dur­ing the Test match at Edg­bas­ton.

You’d think it might be a bad idea to give a bloke who took 37 wick­ets last Ashes se­ries a leg up in the third Test, but at least a por­tion of the 9mm of grass on the Birm­ing­ham sur­face is likely to re­main at the re­quest of a pan­icked Eng­land.

Lights used to cul­ti­vate cannabis have even been brought in from the West Mid­lands Po­lice Depart­ment to ac­cen­tu­ate the pace and bounce in the wicket, but with John­son able to fire on even the flat­test of pitches the hosts’ plans could go up in smoke.

John­son is just one wicket and one run from the dou­ble of tak­ing 300 Test wick­ets and mak­ing 2000 Test runs – a feat ac­com­plished by just six fast bowlers be­fore him.

For­mer Aus­tralian bowl- ers Dennis Lillee, Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee are among those al­ready in the 300 club.

Skip­per Michael Clarke has de­scribed John­son as per­haps the best over­all ath­lete that cricket has seen.

“I’ve al­ways said he’s as gifted an ath­lete as I’ve played with,” Clarke said.

“I’ve been lucky enough to play with some re­ally fit quicks – you think of Brett Lee, Andy Bichel, Glenn McGrath.

“These guys worked ex­cep­tion­ally hard in the gym to stay healthy and Mitch is as fit, if not fit­ter, than those blokes put to­gether.

“Hence why he’s been able to play for such a long pe­riod of time, have con­sis­tent suc­cess and bowl at that pace.”

Trip­ping over a ball and twist­ing an an­kle, as McGrath did at Edg­bas­ton in the turn­ing point of 2005, is un­likely to hap­pen to John­son.

“Bat, bowl, field, give him a footy, put him in a box­ing ring, have a race against him ( John­son can do it all),” Clarke said.

“He takes some un­be­liev­able catches, gets some un­be­liev­able run outs, scores Test hun­dreds and bowls like a ge­nius.”

Clarke likened the amount of grass on the Edg­bas­ton wicket to “a Shield game at the Gabba”.

Pic­ture: RYAN PIERSE

BAND OF BOWLERS: Meet Aus­tralia’s No. 1 boy band when it comes to cricket. They are the fear­some five- man fast- bowl­ing car­tel cur­rently tak­ing the English charts – and bats­men — by storm, oth­er­wise known as The Back­seat Boys. On the Aus­tralian cricket team bus these five men hold ex­clu­sive rights over the back row, ( from left) Josh “Hoff” Ha­zle­wood, Mitchell “MJ” John­son, Peter “P Siddy” Sid­dle, young sen­sa­tion Patty Cum­mins and Mitchell “The Star” Starc.

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