The mythology of Johnson

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2 minute read
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.


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  1. Penis jokes are funny.

    On a serious note, the 2013-14 whitewash had as much to do with Harris, Siddle and Lyon taking wickets as Johnson. But they are scared of Johnson’s pace, there’s no getting away from that. It scrambles their brains and makes them pop an innocuous delivery from the off-spinner into the hands of short leg.

    1. The phrase ‘something to write home about’ should perhaps be updated for these modern times of hoverboards and wireless ghetto blasters.

      May I suggest ‘Johnshon’s record in England is rarely something to tweet/Facebook/Skype/Instagram/whatsapp home about’

      #YOLO, right guys?

  2. Austin Healey, the former rugbyist, is named after a car. In his case the car in question is a rather elegant two-seat sports car. Jenson Button is not named after a car, but he nearly shares his name with one. Again, the car in question is a two-seat sports car. It seems that if you are an international sportsman who is or who nearly is named after a car, that car has to be a classically pretty two-seater.

    This raises the question of what type of car an MG Johnson is? Certainly the MGB fits the bill, as does the MG-TF. But the Johnson? A little research (*) reveals that while it is indeed quick and nippy, it is extremely prone to reliability issues. It is known for breaking down completely at unexpected times. Owners have noted its tremendous straight line performance, but also its tendency to pull dramatically to the left or right, making it nigh on uncontrollable, a real difficulty for the guy at the wheel. This all adds up to a car that is fine on fast, flat tracks, but wayward on unfamiliar ground. It’s no long-distance tourer, that’s for sure.

    (*) No, seriously. It’s all true.

    1. 24, 23, 10, 6, 10, 6, 23, 17, 19, 1, 161, 0, 2, 3, 47, 5, 128, 7, 18, 47, 14, 38, 4, 7, 42, 10

      From the end of the Adelaide test in 2013, Clarke has played fourteen matches, scored two centuries, no other scores over 50, thirteen scores of ten or under, for an average of 31.

      It’s not great, but we’ve selected captains with worse records than this. A bit like with the English, I don’t see who’s battering the door down to take his place. And the captain-in-waiting in is in the form of his life at the moment, probably not something to risk by lumping the captaincy on his slopey shoulders.

      So yes, he should be dropped immediately. We need to start a social media campaign. #clarkemustgo – oh hold on, I’ve already used that one. #pupatemyhamster, which doesn’t mean anything but might at least generate some interest from confused lepidopterists.

    2. Broadly yes, but he Wood be Anderson sheltered at Trent Bridge and no Moining from me should he remain Rooted in their side.

    1. I’m struggling to understand how this is happening. I mean, Australia had all the momentum, and if we start to question momentum what comes next?

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