The most tormenting image for England fans from the 5-0 Ashes decimation Down Under 18 months ago was a recurring one.
It featured Australian quick Mitchell Johnson with his arms raised aloft in almost mocking celebration of yet another batsman toppled.
The Aussie left arm tore hole upon hole through England’s batting line-up to the tune of 37 wickets in the series, bouncing and swinging his way to best figures of 7-40 at the Adelaide Oval in one of the most memorable spells in Ashes history.
Fast-forward to the cusp of another Ashes series and while England’s Test squad are sunning themselves on a bonding exercise in Spain, Johnson has been back among the wickets in a warm-up match in Kent.
Johnson, who averaged a wicket every 13.97 runs against England in Australia, took 3-42 as he ominously got the ball moving at Canterbury on the second day of the tour match.
Amazingly, England’s scourge from the last Ashes has been under pressure for his place thanks to being outbowled by fellow seames Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazelwood during Australia’s recent Test series in the West Indies.
However, with figures such as these on English soil so close to the first Ashes Test in Cardiff, it will be hard for Michael Clarke and the selectors to leave him their fastest bowler out the side.
Johnson is 9/4 with Ladbrokes to be the tourists top series wicket taker for the Ashes and after facing him up close for Kent, former England batsman Rob Key was mightily impressed, if not a little scared.
Key said: “For a large part of that I thought ‘there is no way I get paid enough to be facing Mitchell Johnson. “The pace he has, he gets the odd one to swing. It doesn’t matter which pitch you are on, that bloke is a serious bowler.
“He can intimidate you but he can also move the ball around a little bit. He’s a proper, proper bowler.”
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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