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Mitchell Johnson has amazing rhythm, says Matthew Wade

AFP
Sep 12, 2013 at 03:16pm IST

Birmingham: England may have batted for barely 15 overs at Edgbaston before their third One-Day International against Australia was washed out on Wednesday, but that was enough for Mitchell Johnson to remind them of his ability.

The abandonment left Australia 1-0 up with two games to play in the five-match series ahead of Saturday's clash in Cardiff, with their 88-run win in Manchester falling between two rain-ruined no results in Leeds and now Birmingham.

However, of arguably greater significance than Wednesday's raw result was Johnson's return of one wicket for 20 runs in five overs, which came as England slumped to 59 for 3 before rain stopped play. Kevin Pietersen was Johnson's prize scalp, the batsman unable to get over the top of a short ball and lobbing a gentle catch to square leg.

Mitchell Johnson has amazing rhythm, says Matthew Wade

England may have batted for barely 15 overs at Edgbaston but that was enough for Mitchell Johnson to remind them of his ability.

Johnson was also unlucky not to dismiss Jonathan Trott as a couple of close lbw decisions went against him after he'd previously dismissed Trott for a duck in Manchester.

"It's quick - it's one of the quickest I've probably kept to for a little while now," said Matthew Wade after the Wednesday washout. "His rhythm is amazing, but more importantly his accuracy is second to none at the moment.

"He's swinging the ball nicely, and hitting the stumps enough. He was probably unlucky not to get Trott here. He bowled really nicely to him ... one of our big things is to take early wickets, and Mitch is getting that done for us at the moment.

"The bowlers that are going around currently, Mitch is certainly hitting the gloves as hard as anyone of those."

Johnson also hit Trott on the helmet grille and Wade confirmed that Trott could expect plenty more short deliveries before this series was over. "I definitely think it's a plan," he said. "It's something we'll keep trying to do. Any batsman getting bouncers at the pace Mitch has been bowling at in the last couple of games is going to find it quite difficult.

"With Trott, it's definitely a plan - not only the bouncer, we're trying to mix his feet up and get lbws and caught behinds. It's definitely one of our main plans to him for sure. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to work that one out, I suppose."

Johnson has had to bear the brunt of jibes from England fans on account of his waywardness and he wasn't selected for the recent 3-0 Ashes defeat. But with several Australia fast bowlers - including James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc, Ryan Harris, Jackson Bird and Pat Cummins -sidelined by injury, Wade said it would be no surprise if Johnson were to add to his tally of 51 Tests come the Ashes opener in the return series in Brisbane in November.

"If you were picking the team tomorrow, I'm sure he'd be in it because we haven't got a lot of fast bowlers that are available," pointed out Wade. "If he bowls like this, he'll definitely be in the mix for the first Test come the Ashes for sure."

Eoin Morgan, leading the side in the absence of the rested Alastair Cook, was well aware of Johnson's capabilities and admitted that at his best, the left-arm paceman was "very, very good".

"We know when he bowls well, he's pretty dangerous," said Morgan. "We've played against him long enough to know that when he's at his best he's very, very good - but if he gets it wrong, he gives you enough scoring opportunities to capitalise."

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