Johnson admits how England taunts hit home
Australia fast bowler Mitchell Johnson has admitted the jibes he’d received from England fans during successive Ashes series defeats had dented his often fragile confidence.
But as he prepared for another clash with the old enemy in the fifth and final one-day international at Old Trafford here on Tuesday, the erratic 30-year-old left-arm paceman insisted he no longer carried any mental scars.
The taunts from the ’Barmy Army’, an England supporters group, became especially wounding during England’s triumphant Ashes tour of 2010/11, with Johnson hearing repeated chants of: “He bowls to the left, he bowls to the right, that Mitchell Johnson, his bowling is shite.” “I think back then I let it affect me a lot,” Johnson said at Old Trafford here on Monday.
“It’s hard not to when that’s all you can hear in the cricket ground — your name being sung, and the songs are very catchy.
“I was at that point in my career where I was letting things get to me -it was not necessarily just the crowd, it was everything.” However, Johnson — for whom this short tour has been a first taste of international cricket in seven months following a toe injury in South Africa — added: “But I’ve pushed on past that.
“I’ve learned to deal with it and I look at it as a reflection of my performances — they are threatened by me a little.
“I’ve had some pretty good performances against England in the past.” England though are already a series-winning 3-0 up ahead of Tuesday’s match.
Johnson has featured in just one match this series, a six-wicket defeat at The Oval, where a return of none for 43 in seven overs included several no-balls.
He is, though, set for a recall on Tuesday after fast bowler Brett Lee and all-rounder Shane Watson were both ruled out with calf problems on Monday.
Johnson’s injury in South Africa came at a low point in his career when he’d taken just 13 wickets in six Tests at an expensive average of 57 in 2011.
“I just wasn’t sure where I was going,” Johnson said. “If I hadn’t got the injury and let’s just say I got picked on the next trip — because there was concern that I wasn’t going to get picked — I don’t think anything would have changed in my performances.
“I don’t think I would have retired but I definitely would have stepped away from it a little bit. Before my injury I wasn’t confident and didn’t believe in myself,” he added.
Australia coach Mickey Arthur gave the side a stern talking to after Saturday’s emphatic eight-wicket loss in Durham gave England the series, with the South African urging his players to show some “mongrel”.
“Like Mickey said the other day, we just need to have fire in our bellies and show that belief and go out and do a job,” said Johnson.
“We have one more chance to show England and ourselves we’re good enough — and I believe we are good enough.” Johnson added his side could learn from the examples of England one-day captain Alastair Cook and fellow opener Ian Bell.
“It’s about belief and confidence in yourself, and that’s something I’ve gained being away from cricket because I was in a period before my injury where I wasn’t confident.
“Look at the England side and look at Ian Bell, the amount of confidence he shows out on the paddock, from what it was two years ago; Alastair Cook as well. We can learn from the English in a way.”