Brett Lee backs Mitchell Johnson to rattle England with pace in Ashes 2013-14

Brett Lee said that Mitchell Johnson (above) had the speed to intimidate even the best of batsmen around the world © Getty Images

Nov 18, 2013

Former Australia fast bowler Brett lee said Mitchell Johnson is back to his best and is ready to rattle the England batsmen in the Ashes 2013-14 series starting from November 21. Lee believed Johnson has got back the form that made him one of the most feared fast bowlers in world cricket.

Johnson was one of the best fast bowlers in the world till 2009, but then faded away and became more wayward. But he has been in impressive form in 2013 and recently has bowled at speeds well over 150 kmph and clocking as high as 155 kmph in the limited-overs series against India.

But fans would be skeptical over the left-hander’s form in the first Test at The Gabba in Brisbane, but former teammate Lee said Johnson was turn out to be the pacer who terrorised South Africa’s Graeme Smith a few years ago rather than the one who lost confidence in the 2009 Ashes in England.

“I just think the thing with Mitchell Johnson is when he’s chilled out, relaxed, enjoying it and got a smile on his face, he’s a silent assassin. When he’s got that quirky smirk on his face, he means business,” Lee was quoted as saying in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Lee was part of the Australian team in 2008 when Johnson unleashed one of the best and hostile spells of fast bowling ever in Australia. In only 21 balls, Johnson destroyed South Africa’s innings in Perth as he got five wickets while conceding only two runs.

Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers were the prized scalps as he ended with his career-best eight for 61.

“I haven’t seen him bowl as well as he has recently — his run-up, his approach, position at the crease. He looks nice and sound at the crease, he’s bowling wheels. Over 150 kmph is quick. He needs to shake the Poms (England) up,” Lee added.

“The Mitch of 2013-14 should be a good one. The most important thing about Mitchell Johnson right now is the pace and second is the swing. I don’t care who’s batting, if he’s bowling over 150ks swinging the ball, he’ll get wickets.”

Lee also said that Johnson had the speed to intimidate even the best of batsmen around the world. “He bowls what they call a heavy ball. You get bowlers who hit the bat at 140ks and guys who are slightly over who bowl a heavy ball, which hits the bat a lot harder than others — Mitch is like that,” said Lee, who was talking at a Sydney Sixers fan day.

Lee is one of the only few bowlers who have clocked a speed of 160 kmph on the speed gun. He said he cannot rule the possibility of Johnson joining the elite list in the Ashes.

“You don’t want to see bowlers at 130ks. There will be some at 130-140 who are very successful, that was Glenn McGrath — he had 563 reasons why he bowled that pace. It proves you don’t have to be at 150 kmph to take wickets, but Australia need to pick guys that can bowl that pace, and they’ve done it with Mitch.”

Lee said Johnson would be aided by the faster and bouncier pitches in Australia and England would find it very difficult to cope with him. Lee also wanted the groundsmen to prepare pitches lightning-fast tracks which would give Australia a better advantage.

“Of course they (England) can be shaken up, putting them on decent wickets here that they’re not used to playing on back home,” Lee said.

“What I don’t want to see is real slow Australian wickets. I think we should use our best opportunity to try and take wickets. I’d like to see a bit more grass left on it for the Aussie quicks.”

He also said that Australia have a better chance to regain the urn in home conditions than they did in England in the 2013 Ashes, which they lost 3-0.

“I said when they went to England that it was going to be a really tough tour and I didn’t think they can do it over there,” he said.

“It turned out to be that case purely because England are so good on their own turf. Whereas in Australia, it’s a totally different ball game. I think Australia can give it a real shake.”