Johnson ready to thwart Barmy Army


Not even the Barmy Army will be able to stop a reborn Mitchell Johnson this summer, according to Australia’s fast bowling mentor Craig McDermott.


Johnson has admitted the heckling England supporters’ group was his Achilles heel during Australia’s Ashes humiliation three years ago.

And relentless chants of “he bowls to the left, he bowls to the right, that Mitchell Johnson, his bowling is shite” is sure to ring throughout the Gabba again should the menacing left-armer earn an expected Ashes recall for the first Test in Brisbane.

But McDermott says the in-form Johnson is in a mental and technical position now where he’ll be strong enough to shrug off past nightmares and take an attitude of “who cares about the Barmy Army.”

“He’s in a good head space at the moment. I think it would take a lot for that to be taken away from him,” McDermott said.

“He’s confident about what he’s doing with the ball and the pace that he’s bowling so who cares about a Barmy Army.

“They’re off the field. They don’t stop him from getting lbws, caught behinds and clean bowleds so who really cares about them.”

Johnson has played exclusively white-ball cricket since the fourth Test in Delhi in March, and as a result, he’s been sent home early from the current India one-day tour to best prepare for the Ashes – missing a big series decider in Bangalore on Saturday.

The 31-year-old is set to play for Western Australia in their Sheffield Shield clash against South Australia in Perth next week.

All things going well it’s likely he will then be rested for the Warriors’ round three first-class match starting on November 13 to give him a balanced lead-in to the first Test starting on November 21.

McDermott will fly to Perth to be with Johnson throughout the Shield game from next Wednesday, before he assembles a first-Test fast bowling group in Brisbane on November 14.

Injuries to James Pattinson and Mitchell Starc have opened up a position in the attack, and highly regarded bowling coach McDermott said Johnson has stepped up when required.

“Certainly the radar guns are saying that over there and the guys are saying he’s bowling really quick,” he said.

“He has been moving the ball back into the right handers a little bit so to me his arm path and his seam position seems to be better so we’ve just got to make sure we keep it that way.

“It’s a little bit different bowling with the red ball so for him to play a Shield game in Perth will be important.

“I just want him to be relaxed. He looks in a tremendous head space at the moment, he looks confident in what he’s doing.”

McDermott is pleased with what he’s seen from front line quicks Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle so far this summer and says the likes of James Faulkner, Ben Hilfenhaus, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Doug Bollinger are also applying pressure.

Meanwhile, Cricket Australia announced day one of the Boxing Day Test is already a sell-out, with a world record crowd in excess of 91,000 possible.

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