Mitchell Johnson had fractured David Warner's finger at WACA, Perth nets in 2013 © Getty Images
Mitchell Johnson had fractured David Warner’s finger at WACA, Perth nets in 2013 © Getty Images

The prospect of facing Mitchell Johnson steaming in at WACA, Perth would give sleepless nights to the greatest of batters. When England faced the wrath of Johnson at this venue four years ago, they ended with a 150-run defeat and conceded The Ashes. Johnson finished with match figures of 6 for 140.

It’s ironical that Johnson’s career ended at this very venue two seasons later when Ross Taylor (290) and Kane Williamson (166) hammered him to pulp. However, this is about the menacing Johnson. Australia had toured India a season before the 2013-14 Ashes. Johnson had stuck David Warner on the finger at the WACA nets resulting in a fracture just before the India tour. It did not have an effect on the Warner’s form, though. If anything, Warner has been one of the best batters in the world across formats but his issues with thumb remain. In 2015, he fractured the finger again.

The prank

While English players are finding a way to dig axe on their foot in the ongoing Ashes, the Australians are in a happy zone. Coach Darren Lehmann has a reputation for being quite a prankster. Lehmann, along with a few of the players, decided to have fun with Warner by raising the prospect of Johnson returning to the lively WACA nets for a training session ahead of the third Test.

Johnson revealed the same to cricket.com.au: “The boys had wound him up over the last couple of days; and ‘Boof’ (Lehmann) had wound him up, saying I was going to come down and have a bowl. I was in the change room with the boys, and up on the whiteboard they had my name up there in Davey Warner’s net. And Boof said, ‘Mitch, are you right to go for 48 balls?’ I said, ‘Yeah, yeah, no worries’.”

Warner knew of the prank?

Warner remained unperturbed (Why shouldn’t he? He has hammered the best in the business on a consistent basis) by all of this.

Watch David Warner, Nathan Lyon, Pat Cummins, Usman Khawaja try bucket crowns
Watch David Warner, Nathan Lyon, Pat Cummins, Usman Khawaja try bucket crowns

“Davey had his head down and he didn’t look up, he didn’t flinch. So I don’t think he bought it, I think some of the boys had said to him, ‘Don’t worry, mate: he’s not coming in’. Because I have done damage to him in these nets before; I think I’ve broken his thumb and hit him in the ribs. They’re (WACA) pretty nasty nets,” added the Western Australian star.

‘Don’t want to be friends with Barmy Army’

Johnson is still an active cricketer in the T20 leagues. He was a star for Perth Scorchers last season and the same will be expected of him when they return to BBL this month. He was also one of the heroes for Mumbai Indians in their third IPL triumph earlier this year.

However, as Johnson laughingly revealed, injuring Warner in the nets would have incurred wrath from every Australian cricket fan: “It wouldn’t have been good if I went in there and hurt him. I think I’d be hated by every Australian! And then the Barmy Army would actually be my friends, and I don’t want that.”

The third Ashes Test begins at Perth on Thursday. Australia are a win away from reclaiming the urn. Meanwhile, Johnson beings his new sojourn with defending champions Perth Scorchers on December 23, against Sydney Sixers at the latter’s den.