Monday, 26 November 2012

Mitch the Robot is back!

'Good f**king Lord, NO!'. That was the involuntary reaction of most of Australia upon realising that Mitchell Johnson has been recalled for the Perth Test.
These were meant to be the awakening times. The Dawn after The Darkest Hour. From 2008, when Australia's home invincibility was ruined by a JP Duminy inspired South Africa, Australia's cricket fortunes rocked back and forth violently. A false dawn here and there, but as inconsistent as Mitchell Johnson's technique. 
There you have it, Mitchell Johnson became known for such infuriating abject-mediocrity that was occasionally sprinkled with indecipherable genius, that he has become his own metaphor. When he broke his toe last year, the Australian team seemed to break off the shackles. They picked young, exciting, accurate speedsters. Something that they'd been so loathe to do previously, just as long as Mitch gave a shy, unconvincing nod to the question 'do you think you can hit the cut strip this week?' I'd even christened these years as AJ (the After Johnson era), such was the relief to be rid of him.
Johnson has always been on the verge of something great, and on 3 or 4 occasions he produced it. Two of those occasions were in Perth, where it seems prevailing weather conditions turn him into the unplayable monster that we've been promised he would be ever since Dennis Lillee rescued him from delivering plumbing equipment 10 years ago. 
The reason Perth's weather conditions are relevant? The current theory is the wind is what makes the ball swing, rather than Mitch. In other words, Johnson has no idea how to bowl well. He hurls cricket balls, admittedly at frightening pace, down the other end and then waits to see what happens. This works in Perth, but seemingly nowhere else in the world. After taking 11 against SA, he followed it up with 2 in the next test. After ripping through England in 2010, he followed it up with.. actually, nevermind. Comparisons were made in the English press after THAT Perth test on the arm and seam position of James Anderson and Johnson. The conclusion, 'Mitch doesn't know how he is doing this'.
As it happens, Johnson's luck is in. Pattinson has broken down. Siddle looks like he won't be able to walk for a week, let alone open to bowling in 4 days time, and Australia wants to play 4 quicks. Reports came through from a domestic game in Hobart today that, with impeccable timing, Johnson smashed the helmets of Tim Paine and Aiden Blizzard within 3 overs. In that same time, he gave away 12 byes with wild misfires.
Johnson may well take another bagful in Perth. The fear being that this will then grant him another 9 or 10 test matches based upon one performance. It will be one giant step back if this were all to come true.

Nicholas Toovey

1 comment:

  1. For every century Clarke hits, Johnson can give away half of those runs in extras! As a South African I feel mixed feelings about Johnson's call up....he could destroy our batting line-up, but he could also do nothing. His role might solely be to create some rough for the spinners. Great article by the way, looking forward to more news! :)