Johnson revels in crowd abuse

2015-08-04 14:32
Mitchell Johnson (AP)

Nottingham - Australia fast bowler Mitchell Johnson has insisted he is relishing the role of being the man English crowds love to hate.

Johnson was subjected to prolonged vocal abuse as England won the third Ashes Test by eight wickets inside three days at Birmingham's Edgbaston ground to take a 2-1 lead in the five-match series.

While it may not have been quite as vicious as during England's 2009 series win, when Johnson had to cope with chants about his family as well as a derogatory song which mocks him for bowling left and right, it was certainly sustained and reached something of a crescendo on Friday's final day at Edgbaston.

Now Johnson is bracing himself for more of the same at Nottingham's Trent Bridge, where the fourth Test starts on Thursday.

But at the age of 33, the left-arm paceman regards the barracking as a "compliment" and said the way in which he had stopped his run and then bowled from beside the umpire on Friday were his way of responding to the taunts, rather than a sign that spectators had got to him.

"I get amongst it a bit more now," Johnson told travelling Australian media in Nottingham on Tuesday.

"When the whole crowd is cheering my name at the end of a game - when they (England) have just won - you have to take that as a compliment... where I did stop in my run-up was deliberate to try and have a bit of fun with the crowd. "

Johnson added: "I definitely feel like I can take the brunt of it and I take the focus away from the other guys and I've really embraced that role.

"When you're walking with your family in the street, I think it's a bit overboard. But on the field, I think that's fair game... I'm all for it."

Johnson produced arguably the two most dramatic deliveries of the entire series in England's first innings at Edgbaston when he struck twice in three balls to dismiss Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes with two sharply rising throat balls the England batsmen could only glove behind to wicketkeeper Peter Nevill.

Yet such hostility was not forthcoming from Johnson in the rest of the match.

"I don't know. I guess from my point of view I was just trying to really dry up the runs and I probably just lost that bit of aggression," Johnson said.

"I don't read into it too much to be honest. But I think because the ball has been swinging over here a lot more, I feel like I'm trying to get the ball up there a lot more often anyway.

"I feel like I've bowled a lot fuller this trip. I've been really happy with the way I've bowled, generally."

In the second innings, Australia captain Michael Clarke, despite a reputation for 'funky' tactics, opted not to depart from his usual practice of deploying Johnson as first change until England needed only 74 more runs chasing a target of just 121.

"I thought to myself I was really keen to get the new ball, but whatever is best for the team in those situations I'm happy with," Johnson said.

"I have full trust in those guys, Starcy (Mitchell Starc) and (Josh) Hazlewood, to do the job but I'm always prepared to bowl in any position," he added.

An England victory at Trent Bridge would see them win a fourth consecutive home Ashes series - something they haven't managed since Australia recorded their first away series win in 1899.

"Hopefully, we can come out here and win this Test match because, if we don't, we are in big trouble," said Johnson.

Read more on:    england  |  australia  |  ashes  |  mitchell johnson  |  cricket

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