Australian quick Mitchell Johnson has promised plenty more verbal stoushes with England’s batsmen in Perth this weekend.
In a Sheffield Shield game a month ago at the WACA, Mitchell Johnson bowled a bumper that crashed into the sightscreen on the second bounce.
The pitch for Friday’s third Ashes Test is likely to be faster, given the baking hot conditions this week.
That doesn’t bode well for England’s batsmen who are fending off accusations that they lack the heart to get in line behind short balls coming down at over 150 km/h.
Australia’s bowling coach Craig McDermott says Johnson can bowl even faster than some of the thunderbolts he’s sent down in claiming 17 wickets in the first two Tests.
On top of being in the form of his life, Johnson has a record at the WACA of 36 wickets at 19.66 in five Tests.
“During that Shield game there was definitely a lot of balls that were head height to the keeper, carrying through nicely,” Johnson said on Wednesday.
“I’ve played well here in the past. The wicket, I played a Shield game here a couple of weeks ago.
“It was a good indication that it should be fast and bouncy. That excites me a lot.”
Johnson is embracing the role of intimidator, both with his pace barrage and with his sprinkling of choice words.
“I’m not worried about bowling 155, 160 clicks,” the 32-year-old said.
“I don’t think that’s important to me.”
The left-armer says rhythm is what counts, which allows him to get good carry and bounce.
And be fearsome.
“Throughout the history it’s all about intimidating. Look at some of the recent ones like Shoaib Akhtar, he used to intimidate batsmen around the world,” Johnson said.
“If you can bowl a ball at someone’s grill I don’t care who you are, you’re going to feel intimidated and especially on a wicket like Perth.”
Johnson is also planning to serve up plenty more lip but says you have to pick your mark.
“You pick your players who either enjoy it or don’t. You’ve got to be sure of which guys you want to go after and what to do,” Johnson said.
“People call it sledging. I just call it mind games.
“You can either be a bit lippy, or just a little smile here or there can make the batsmen think.
“Joe Root, we saw in Brisbane, he came back with a few words and I thought I’d cracked him then.
“It’s a cute little smile that he’s got.
“I don’t mind if a batter does go back at me.
“It’s about being in control. As long as I can be in control of it then I’m happy.”
Johnson and Ben Stokes were charged on Monday with making inappropriate physical contact with each other after their shoulder bump during England’s second innings in Adelaide.
“As a bowler, I feel you’re entitled to your own line,” Johnson said.
“We were both cleared so I’m not really going to go much more into that.”
England vice-captain Matt Prior was in no mood for cute little smiles on Wednesday.
“It’s all well and good me sitting here talking and going on about fight and hunger and everything,” Prior said, thumping his finger into the table at his news conference.
“The only way we’re going to show fight and hunger is out on that cricket pitch performing and getting results.”