Mitchell Johnson recorded figures of 3 for 53 and 3 for 27 in the second Test at Lord's © Getty Images

Mitchell Johnson recorded figures of 3 for 53 and 3 for 27 in the second Test at Lord’s © Getty Images

Mitchell Johnson turned back the clock to The Ashes 2013-14 in Australia with a furious display against England at Lord’s in the second Test of the Ashes 2015. His three wickets in either innings were made more of a psychological impact than what the scorecard reflected. Despite his performance, Shiamak Unwalla feels that Johnson will have to prove that this was no mere flash in the pan.

The Barmy Army had infamously sang in 2010-11, “He bowls to the left, he bowls to the right, that Mitchell Johnson, his bowling is sh*te.” It did not seem that a lot had changed when a moustachioed Johnson ran in at The Gabba in the first Test of The Ashes 2013-14. Sure, he had bowled well in the Indian Premier League (IPL) that year, but he was hardly a force to be reckoned with; or so thought England. ALSO READ: Mitchell Johnson wants to reopen England’s scars

What happened after that is a matter of national pride for Australia. Jonathan Trott’s career was all but finished, as was Kevin Pietersen‘s — albeit for different reasons — and England returned home with their tails well and truly tucked between their legs. The Australian juggernaut had reared its head for the first time in years, and Johnson was the man who stood at the forefront, heralding the change.

It stands to reason, then, that all eyes would be on Johnson when Australia returned to England for the 2015 Ashes in England; a country where Australia have failed to win a series since 2001. The first Test at Cardiff was a nightmare for Johnson. He went wicketless for 111 in the first innings and managed to scrape through a couple of wickets in the second. He then scored a battling 77 off 94 balls with nine fours and two sixes. It was perhaps this innings that gave him the momentum for what followed. ALSO READ: Mitchell Marsh helped Mitchell Johnson fire at Lord’s, says Craig McDermott

Then came Lord’s. Johnson had 566 runs behind him thanks to Steve Smith and Chris Rogers. More importantly, he had his own 77 in the last match. He had shown earlier in the Australian summer against India that runs under his belt translated to wickets with the ball. In case England were not paying attention to that series, Johnson offered a delightfully dreadful reminder.

Johnson had effectively ended Trott’s career after the 2013-14 Ashes. He might not have ended Ballance’s yet, but memories of Trott being made to look like a schoolboy came flooding back. Next to go was Joe Root, and with him half of England’s batting might. Alastair Cook and Ben Stokes played vastly contrasting innings, but by then the damage was done. Stuart Broad was Johnson’s third wicket, and Australia led by 254. Johnson was far from done. ALSO READ: Australia thrash England by 405 runs in 2nd Test

England were left with the impossible task of either surviving five sessions or going for a 509-run chase. Johnson made their choice for them. Cook threw his wicket away, and England went to tea in the pits at 52 for 5. Five balls into the final session on Day Four, Jos Buttler and Moeen Ali were done in by Johnson again. It was The Ashes 2013-14 all over again: Johnson breathing fire, and England getting scorched in the process.
The challenge now is to prove that this was not a glitch in the system. Lord’s showed shades of the old moustachioed Mitch Johnson, but Cardiff showed shades of the older “bowls to the right…” Johnson as well. The question now is, which version of Mitch will emerge at Birmingham? ALSO READ: Australia face selection issues ahead of third Test

(Shiamak Unwalla, a reporter with CricketCountry, is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek who loves cricket more than cricketers. His Twitter handle is @ShiamakUnwalla)