Mitchell Johnson is fast and his philosophy is simple ‘either your first or you’re last’. He is the man of the moment, the hero and the villain, and come Thursday he might have the St George’s Park band whistling a different tune.
Not so long ago Australia were in a spot of bother having lost seven of their nine Test matches in 2013 with only two draws. Enter new coach Darren ‘Boof’ Lehmann who called in a team meeting before the home Ashes series and asked “Do any of you guys wanna go fast?”. To which a skatey looking olive skinned fellow with a magnificent mustache and legavaan skin on his arm in the back shyly stuck his hand up and yelled “I wanna go fast!”
Since then the world has never been the same. In six Test matches Johnson has taken 49 wickets at an average of a tick over 13 runs per wicket. On average, he takes a wicket every four and a half overs! In the Centurion Test his average speed was 146km/h and apart from taking 12 wickets, he felled Ryan McLaren and ruled him out of the second Test with concussion. That’s something Bismarck du Plessis would be proud of!
Like Miley Cyrus, Mitch came in like a wrecking ball, obliterating all that lay before him in a hostile manner of fast bowling that can either get you moist with excitement or fear. It is a ferocious style of quick bowling that hasn’t been seen since the the 1970s and ’80s when Marshall, Holding, Garner, Roberts and Croft left opponents groveling at their feet. Johnson is the Antichrist to all batsmen and has created a reign of terror similar to that of Messieurs Larwood and Voce in the infamous 1932-33 Bodyline series.
Johnson seems unstoppable and one can only feel a sense of despair and hopelessness when watching Alviro Petersen and co cowering to the might of his thunderbolts. St George’s Park is notoriously a slow pitch and if CSA had any sense they’d ask the curator to make it even slower than slow to negate the demon from across the Indian Ocean. Even the most partisan crowd in the country spurred on by the renowned St George’s Park band will be of little help unless Biff and the boys can grow the proverbial pair and man up to Mitch. It would help the cause slightly if Graeme Smith didn’t opt to bowl first when his premier bowler has the runs, cause we know now that it’s the fastest who get paid and it’s the fastest who get laid.
Only Hashim Amla, Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander weren’t dismissed by Johnson at Centurion with even the great AB de Villiers perishing in both innings to Aussies gas man, albeit in fortuitous fashion for Mitch. South Africa are the number one team in the world and as stated earlier ‘If you ain’t first, you’re last’. The Proteas need to remember this when they tackle the Aussies at a ground renowned for it’s passionate support and electric atmosphere. They can do it, they should do it and above all else, they must do it!
So it’s time for the Proteas to Shake ‘n Bake cause when Mitch comes knocking things start rocking!