Barmy Army salutes Johnson

2015-11-18 11:32
Barmy Army (File)

London - England's Barmy Army supporters group hailed Australia's Mitchell Johnson as a "proper Test match cricketer" after one of their favourite targets announced his international retirement on Tuesday.

There were times when the 34-year-old left-arm fast bowler was mocked mercilessly by England's most vocal travelling fans, notably when England won the 2010/11 Ashes on Australian soil.

It was during that series that the chant of "He bowls to the left, he bowls to the right, that Mitchell Johnson, his bowling is shite," set to the tune of the Beach Boys' Sloop John B, was first heard.

At times during a career that featured 313 Test wickets, Johnson admitted the taunts got to him.

But Barmy Army co-founder Paul Burnham insisted Tuesday that bad language was never part of the original lyrics.

"It didn't have the swear word in initially. We pride ourselves on not swearing so it was supposed to be 'his bowling's not right'," Burnham said.

"But the other word fit better and that was that. Nobody complained about the odd swear word in Australia so it was a case of 'when in Rome'."

Johnson would, occasionally, respond to the goading with a gesture of his own towards the crowd.

But, as many cricketers before him discovered, the best answer came with his performances, which included a man-of-the-series effort in Australia's 5-0 rout of England in the 2013/14 Ashes.

"Mitchell kind of turned himself from a hate figure into a loved figure," said Barmy Army tour manager Andy Thompson. "We voted him our overseas player of the year a couple of years ago and he was lovely, he did a video for us to accept.

"What we liked is that he could never resist having a bite. He'd always look over and have a good go back, but it was always in good heart."

Burnham added: "There was a time we got on top of him, but he went on to be fantastic against England. We all like a good comeback, even against your own team. He was a proper Test match cricketer."

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

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