Tag: Mitchell Johnson (page 1 of 3)

Video: Mitchell Johnson playing tennis right-handed

Well, looks like we’ve got to the bottom of that whole ‘bowl to the left, bowl to the right’ thing. Turns out Mitchell Johnson is right-handed.

Here’s some expert coaching advice, Mitch: bowl with your other hand.

Better late than never with these kinds of tips.

You may already have been aware of Johnson’s ambidextrousness/confusion. We weren’t. Responding to yesterday’s post – in which we reminded people that when only one arm is tattooed, it should the ‘doing arm’ – Top shelf tweeted us to point out that Johnson signs autographs right-handed.

There we were mistakenly thinking that Johnson had the wrong arm tattooed. Turns out the correct one had been tattoed all along and he’d simply been using the other one to bowl by mistake.

What the use of Mitchell Johnson’s head as a toilet brush says about the Australia cricket team

It’s increasingly fashionable for captains and coaches to talk about building culture within their team – shared values and working together and all that crap.

Mitchell Johnson’s autobiography, Resilient, features a colourful anecdote from his time at the Cricket Academy in Adelaide which sheds light on every aspect of the culture that underpins Australia sides.

“Every night we’d pile into the common room and watch Neighbours before dinner. I was always a bit willing as every time there was an ad break there would be an all-in wrestle on the floor until the show started again.

“In one wrestle I was dragged through the door and into the bathroom by a heap of guys and somebody pushed my head into the toilet. I wasn’t impressed and the red mist descended. Somehow I managed to break free and I grabbed whoever it was by the front of the shirt as I got up and someone grabbed mine.

“I raised my right fist and he did the same. Then we looked at each other. It was Watto.”

Hopefully the red mist isn’t the product of a very severe urinary tract infection in this story.

Assuming it isn’t, what we’re left with is: watching Neighbours, wrestling like children who’ve spent too long cooped up indoors and faecal peril.

And afterwards all you’re left with is Shane Watson’s fat face staring back at you as he threatens to hurt you, but doesn’t.

The Mitchell Johnson bowling action – a nasty and effective and unreliable thing

Mitchell Johnson contributed some extremely interesting cricket and you can’t ask for much more than that from a player. Overall, his record is very good, but that long-term-very-goodness was created by opposing short-term extremes.

At his best, Johnson was as exciting to watch as pretty much any cricketer ever. If your team was playing against Australia, you may not have enjoyed the spectacle, but you can’t say it didn’t raise the heart-rate. It wasn’t so much the pace, as that sense that the entire match could be decided in short order.

Set against that, his worst was comically dire. This is of course just as entertaining and therefore, in our eyes, every bit as worthwhile. Friend or foe, Johnson will be missed.

Where’s the ball gone?

If there’s a lesson to be gleaned from the impact of Good Johnson, it’s that even in its purest form, fast bowling isn’t all about pace – it’s about reaction times. Ed Cowan helps us understand this with an account of what it was like to face him.

“He rocks back after the familiar rhythmical approach, and then it seems you wait an eternity for the ball to be launched towards you. An ever-so-brief moment of panic can sweep across you as you realise he has let it go but you have not picked it up until the ball is halfway down.

“There is certainly some luck involved in getting through those early exchanges – if one delivery is on the money, your day can be over before it really begins. So much of the advance information gained by batsmen about the length of a delivery vanishes when the bowler possesses such an action.”

You can get half an idea of what he means by watching this video comparing the actions of Mitchells Starc and Johnson.

At this point, Johnson’s bowling arm is already down and the ball is well on its way to being released…


… but yet the two bowlers release the ball at (almost) the same time. As Cowan says, there’s almost a pause when the ball’s behind Johnson in his delivery stride; a coiled-spring moment that gives the batsman a split second to ponder what’s to come and also denies him the rhythm he needs to react properly.

Starc is the archetypal thoroughbred fast bowler. Johnson was the Whangotron 9000. For all that a smooth, languid bowling action might be more aesthetically pleasing, in many ways the Johnson method presents more of a threat.

The mythology of Johnson

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Photo by Sarah Ansell

That sounds a little like a crude and edgy, deliberately controversial Off-Broadway show. But it isn’t. It’s a reference to the eldest Mitchell; the man who apparently compels English batsmen to dash their own brains out in fear.

Mitchell Johnson is currently the man with the fifth-best bowling average and strike-rate for Australia in this series. No-one likes facing him – that’s fairly obvious – but we do rather feel that his impact is prone to being overstated. He’s a very good bowler, he’s done great things in the past, but it does sometimes feel like his performances get talked up as being earth-shattering even when he’s taken 3-60.

Don’t get us wrong, 3-60’s good, but it’s ‘well bowled’ good, not ‘cower before me, mortals!’ good. Johnson may also take 5-15 at some point, so why not save all the cooing and fawning for then?

“We’re not going to cross the line, but we’re going to go right up to it and I think there are a few scars there which might open up,” said some fictional amalgam of the Australian team because we can’t be bothered finding an actual quote about mental scars with which to make our point.

It’s a peculiarly Australian obsession, mental scarring. Other nations rarely talk about it, but Johnson in particular seems to believe he’s liable to open up scars in England’s top order by dismissing Stuart Broad with a short ball. Maybe it’s that psychological phenomenon where you project onto others the flaws you possess yourself, because surely if anyone’s scarred by a northern hemisphere Ashes series, it’s Johnson.

Or maybe it’s just a fast bowler talking bollocks because the Ashes is a pantomime. Either way, it’s a really tired thing to say and we’re kind of sick of the self-aggrandising aspect of it.

Meanwhile, Mitchell Starc’s bowling more rapidly and producing a greater number of unplayable deliveries, while Josh Hazlewood’s plonking it on a length and getting more wickets than either of them.

Who’s your favourite Mitch? And who’s your least favourite?

Not much is happening in the cricket at the minute, so we might as well busy ourselves tackling the difficult philosophical questions. If three Mitches play cricket for Australia, is it possible to have a favourite?

For us, this is the order in which we’d place them – best at the top.

  1. Mitchell Starc
  2. Mitchell Johnson
  3. Mitchell Marsh

If we try and explain our reasoning, it seems our preference is largely based on cricketing reasons, which is something of a surprise. In short, we feel that Starc ‘deserves’ success, while Marsh doesn’t.

We remember in the early days of Jason Gillespie’s career, Steve Waugh (or possibly even Mark Taylor) tried to embiggen him before an Ashes series by saying he was the best bowler in the world. It was bollocks, obviously – he was only the third-best bowler in the team – but the captain did at least put forward a reasoned argument.

He said that Gillespie was the perfect fast bowler. He said he was tall, bowled 90-odd mph and swung it both ways, all of which was true at the time. We kind of feel the same about Mitchell Starc, only he’s also a left-armer. We figure if a player has all of those qualities, he should be successful otherwise much of what we believe about cricket is wrong.

As for Marsh, he’s a medium-pacer and an Aussie all-rounder. If they prove effective, it again calls into question much of what we believe about cricket.

On the plus side, there’s a Twitter account about Mitch Marsh that we find funny largely on the grounds that we don’t get it. Merchell Mersh communicates with weird neanderthal vowel sounds and that’s pretty much the joke.

We generally just try and avoid thinking about Mitchell Johnson.

How to react to a Johnsonning

It’s not just England then. South Africa have been forcefully Johnsonned and are probably already considering reverting to a more conservative team for the second Test. Five bowlers is great when you’re top of the world and full of confidence, but let’s just see what happens now that they’re rattled.

But bring in a batsman and it’s over. The problem for South Africa wasn’t the sixth wicket partnership, it was that they were 43-4. Even Australia aren’t happy with that kind of batting score – and they’ve been winning from that position.

Vehement letter-C denier, AB de Villiers, has been the only man to show resistance thus far. He may have averaged almost 80 in 2013, but for how much longer is he going to keep wicket? We can’t see it lasting. Not sure why. We just can’t.

The tufty-haired boulder and the blancmange

Mitchell Johnson carrying out some tail-moppery

The escape route outlined in yesterday’s article? England evaded it perfectly, opting instead to stand their ground, whereupon they were flattened by the giant, tufty-haired boulder which has been rumbling after them since they landed Down Under.

The most frustrating thing is that, for all the devastation, Mitchell Johnson only actually dismissed one of the specialist batsmen – Alastair Cook. Carberry was out to Watson, Root and Pietersen were out to idiocy and Bell was not out.

If Root or Pietersen could have avoided lending Australia a hand, Bell showed how together they could have countered Johnson and perhaps worn him down. Who knows? Maybe the lower order would have lasted more than a ball each then.

There’s still a second innings, but realistically the opportunity has gone now – you can’t turn blancmange back into brain.

Mitchell Johnson’s back

Mitchell Johnson - an enthusiastic umpire

As in ‘returned’. He hasn’t got ankylosing spondylitis or anything. Although that would go some way towards explaining why he’s forever spearing balls down the leg side.

We find ourself conflicted about Johnson’s recall. He has looked like a proper fast bowler of late, which is a good thing. However, we don’t particularly want England to face a proper fast bowler. We’d far rather they faced the Johnson of old – a loping bag of meat hanging from a bad haircut with all the coordination of a puppet. That would mean denying the world a fast bowler though and there aren’t many of those knocking about these days.

George Bailey looks set to play in the first Test as well. His one-day form is magic. His first-class record is middling. It will be interesting to see whether there is some monumental flaw in his batting which might be exploited or whether his grown-up brain will get him through.

Michael Clarke’s support for Mitchell Johnson is getting ridiculous

Michael Clarke concluded early on in his tenure that his man management of Mitchell Johnson would involve unconditional love, no matter what the tufty-haired purveyor of left-arm ineptitude did with the ball.

Johnson hasn’t taken many wickets recently, but Clarke’s been steadfast in his support. Someone should tell him he can give it a rest now.

Johnson is expected to have surgery on his left big toe this week and is likely to be out of action for about five months.

Seemingly engaging ‘mindless support mode’, Clarke said:

“I think it could have a good impact on him. It will give him more time away from the game to clear his head and get himself fit and strong.”

For once, we’ve got some sympathy for Johnson, because the poor sod’s already at a low ebb and is now going to miss basically a whole season. However, the idea that sitting on his arse with his foot in the air for half a year will somehow improve him as a bowler isn’t all that convincing.

Tips for fast bowling

Mitchell Johnson has been unshitted by Troy Cooley

One, befriend Troy Cooley. Two, hang out with him for a week.

Last week, we said that Cooley didn’t seem to have done a lot for Australia’s bowlers. We partly retract that. Overall, they’ve had a pretty woeful series, but to teach Mitchell Johnson how to swing a cricket ball and restore his confidence after just a week in the nets? The man must be some sort of warlock.

Once upon a time, we thought that Mitchell Johnson was good. We have quite a bad memory, so we don’t really remember that, but it must have felt similar to today.

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