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How Clarke and sledging turned it around for Johnson

india Updated: Aug 11, 2009 13:27 IST

Australian pacer Mitchell Johnson feared being axed and struggled to cope with the pressure of playing at the Ashes before vice-captain Michael Clarke's advice and a bit of sledging turned things around for him.

Johnson was way off the mark in the first three Tests but found his rhythm in the fourth match at Headingley which Australia won inside three days. He now has 16 wickets in the series.

The pacer said he was fretting over his technique a bit too much before Clarke made him realise the importance of bowling with a calm mind.

"Michael Clarke said to me in the practice game (against Northamptonshire) 'just run in and bowl fast mate, that's what you do best'," Johnson said in a press conference.

"That's what I've been trying to do, run in, hit my areas and not worry about technical stuff on the field. That's for the nets," he added.

Johnson said a heated exchange with English players also helped fire him up.

"It did help me get up, puff the chest out a bit. I don't normally say too much. Maybe it was a bit of a surprise to those guys for me to say something. It felt good to do it and I'll continue to do it," he said.

Looking back at the turmoil that gripped his career in the last couple of months, Johnson also admitted that the public spat between his mother and girlfriend couldn't have come at worse time.

"It has been different for me, I have not been in this situation before with personal matters. It has been a lot different for me but personal things do not affect me when I go out on the pitch," he said.

"I go out there and play my cricket and you don't want to have those things in the back of your mind so once I step out on that field it is all dead and buried."

Asked about his relationship with his mother, who alleged that he has drifted away from her because of his girlfriend, Johnson refused to comment.

"I would rather not talk about it to be honest," he said.

"My personal life is my personal life."

Johnson said the fear of being dropped constantly haunted him after continuing failures in the first three Tests.

"Yeah definitely, it was in the back of my mind," Johnson said.

"When you are not going well and you start thinking a lot of different things and that was one of the things that probably popped up in my mind as well. Yeah definitely was in my mind at one stage."

Johnson said there came a stage where he didn't know where he was bowling and adding to his woes were the English fans, who had a go at him endlessly.

"Probably bowling at Lord's, I didn't know where they were going to be honest," he said.

"I bowled a lot of wides and a lot of short balls, so that was a pretty tough moment for me and to be copping it from the English crowd.

"I probably did not know how to deal with it at the time. But it was probably the most I have copped it before and I have definitely learnt from that and I am sort of taking it all in now," he added.