Mitchell Johnson is Australia's most exciting fast-bowling prospect since Brett Lee first dyed his roots.india Updated: Oct 23, 2006 16:28 IST
Mitchell Johnson is Australia's most exciting fast-bowling prospect since Brett Lee first dyed his roots. He's quick, he's tall, he's insanely talented, but most of all, he's a left-armer.
Only the digging up of a blond legspinner can create more excitement in an Australian cricket scene that has seen just two of this style of diamond - Alan Davidson and Bruce Reid - pass 100 Test wickets. Picked in the one-day side on promise - his best first-class figures after 12 first-class games were 5 for 43 - Johnson's future depends on whether he can stay fit.
Dennis Lillee fell hard and instantly when he spotted him as a 17-year-old at a Pace Australia camp and called him "a once in a generation bowler". Lillee immediately phoned Rod Marsh, who was then the Australian Academy head coach, and Johnson was quickly headed to Adelaide and the national under-19 team.
Injuries, mostly to his back, kept interrupting his long-term plans but he played a full season in 2004-05 and was a fixture with Queensland a year later after being picked for Australia A's tour of Pakistan. Another representative catapult arrived last December when Trevor Hohns launched him into the Australian one-day squad for the final match of the 2005-06 Chappell-Hadlee Series.
Johnson's domestic highlight came when he followed The Bulls' 6 for 900 declared in the Pura Cup final with 6 for 51 and ten for the match to mop up a demoralised Victoria. "What a performance on a flat wicket," his captain Jimmy Maher said.
The display cemented a spot on the Bangladesh tour, where he added to two expensive one-day matches against New Zealand and South Africa with three solid returns. In May he was given a full Cricket Australia contract only two years after driving a delivery truck and considering walking away from the game because of his fourth back stress injury.
At 189cm, he has the height to worry batsmen and is intent on scaring them as well. Shane Watson, his Queensland team-mate, has been impressed. "He has just about the most talent I've ever seen in an all-round athlete and I've only seen him playing cricket. If he can keep improving the sky's the limit."