by Kaushik Narayanan
Three months ago, if one had commented that Mitchell Johnson will end up tormenting the entire English squad and will take 49 wickets in the next 6 matches he plays, anyone have probably laughed him off. But two months down the line, the entire cricketing world is in awe with his andrenaline-rushing spells which implants fear and uncertainity in the minds of his opponents.
But the traces were visible since the previous year IPL itself. Coming into the IPL for the first time, MI bagged him for a reasonable amount in the year 2012 (but couldn’t play due to injury). His pace was never suspected, but whether he would be accurate enough and make an impact in near-flat pitches, that was the question. And in what fashion he proved himself! Not only that he made a lethal combination with Malinga, but he was even among wickets, and he was captain Sharma’s go-to man whenever he wanted wickets.
But he wasn’t selected for the Ashes down at England, where they were drubbed 3-0 for a third consecutive Ashes loss. Nevertheless, he was selected for the ODI series against England. He made a pretty successful comeback(taking 4 in 8 balls in one of the matches), but the storm was just brewing around the corner.
The really made the cricketing world notice after his ODI performances against India in India. Taking 14 wickets in 4 matches, that too in Indian pitches meant that Johnson is serious about his business. The highlight of the series was the way in which he troubled the Indian middle order with some hostile short bowling, with Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina being his consistent victims.
His performance did not go un-noticed, as CA recalled him before the last ODI of the series(which was the series decider) for preparations for the upcoming ashes. The decision received mixed responses, as Australia eventually lost in the final match, where batsmen made merry, and Rohit Sharma scored the third ever ODI double hundred.
And, the rest is history.
3 months, 6 tests, 49 wickets. There is no stopping him.
Such has been the impact of his bowling, that he has re-introduced the “fear” factor into the opposition batsmen, which was lacking due to favourible pitches and mediocre pace bowlers. The English batsmen huffed and puffed against his pace, and his victims include Johnathan Trott(Who went home suffering from depression), Chris Broad( who’s leg was broken from a searing yorker).
Some termed it as a fluke, dismissed that England were too poor. But in the very first SA test, he rattled their batting order into submission, and single-handedly gave Australia a famous victory. Mind you, he was expected to compete against none other than Steyn, and how one-sidedly he has dominated him!
Now with two more tests to go, we have to wait and watch how much impact will have Johnson in this series. But nevertheless,Mitchell has shown his true form against SA. He might not end up being the greatest, but if he keeps this up for a year or two, he has the potential to be tagged as the most feared of his generation.
Johnson has been picked by Kings XI Punjab for IPL 2014 (IPL7) in the IPL auction, and it will be a big treat for the crowds to see the fastest bowler in the world, performing live in front of them.