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Dean Wilson: England must hit back at Mitchell Johnson

27 Jul | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Dean Wilson: England must hit back at Mitchell Johnson

If they do, it might just turn the series back England's way

There are some things that are simply unstoppable.

Things such as the the speed and force of a Muhammad Ali right hook in the early 1970s.

Or Jonah Lomu 20 yards out from the try-line circa 1995.

Or a freight train hurtling along the railway line to deliver its cargo, although in many ways Lomu and the train are one and the same thing.

Some might include Mitchell Johnson bowling against England with his tail up as an unstoppable force.

Peppering the batsmen with short balls and then the odd full one that might or might not swing.

He is as dangerous and awkward a proposition as there is in the game at the moment, and as he sits one wicket away from the landmark of 300 Test scalps, Johnson would deserve to spoken of in the same breath as some of the greats.

But it would be wrong to call him unstoppable.

And it is up to the England batsmen to find a way to prove it at Edgbaston and stop him from getting on the sort of roll that will decide the series.

At Cardiff on a sluggish pitch, Johnson was neutered to some extent as he tried to find his radar and ignore the fact that his bouncers were not as threatening as he would like.

Those problems were largely fixed at Lord’s on another slowish pitch but one in which he used his short ball much more judiciously and took the pitch out of the equation with how full he bowled at other times.

At Edgbaston there is likely to be just as much if not more pace than at Lord’s and Johnson will again be a threat and it is up to a rejigged top order to stop him.

They have been taunted by the Aussies on the field who, according to Ben Stokes let the England players know they were on top during the second Test.

They have been taunted by the Aussies off the pitch with Mitchell Starc admitting he intends to have them jumping about again.

And they have been taunted by ex Aussie players like Shane Warne who used his newspaper column to remind them how difficult they have found the short ball to deal with.

Whether they like it or not, playing the short ball is the ultimate gladiatorial contest in cricket and it either exposes a batsman or allows them to grow in stature.

Ricky Ponting described it best when he spoke about his formative years in the indoor nets in Tasmania that were the quickest surfaces he’d ever seen and taught him early on that he needed a weapon to strike back at the bowler with. Hence he became one of the greatest hooker and pullers the game has ever had.

Alastair Cook and Ben Stokes apart, the England batsmen appear reluctant to take on the hook.

Each to their own when it comes to dealing with different bowlers, but if the likes of Adam Lyth, Ian Bell and Jonny Bairstow can hit back at Johnson with something other than evasive action, it might just turn the series back England’s way.

England are determined to try and avoid focusing too much on the opposition this week and concentrate on their own abilities.

It is hard to avoid Johnson when he is steaming in, but just as they did in Cardiff, this would be a good week to give him something of his own to think about.

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