Mitchell Johnson’s man-of-the-match magic is the fruit of using him in short bursts, according to Australia captain Michael Clarke.
Left-arm paceman Johnson earned the match award in emphatic victories at Brisbane and Adelaide, the latter completed by 218 runs inside an hour today.
Spells such as 5-2-5-16 in the first innings at Adelaide have made Johnson the most lethal member of the hosts’ attack. However, Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle have played their part too, such as by completing figures of 3-54 and 4-57 respectively today.
As for Johnson, Clarke said: “He’s always been an x-factor, hasn’t he? With bat and with ball, he’s as good an athlete in the field as you see.
“I think Mitch has always had that. It’s just about trying to work out how you use him best in the team and I agree 100 per cent with what Mitch said, I think our attack now, and that includes Nathan Lyon and Shane Watson and the other two quicks, really compliment each other so it allows Mitch to be used as best for our team now.”
Johnson, who has 17 wickets at an average of 12.7 in the two Tests and has scored 108 runs in three series innings, is relishing his role of intimidating batsmen with express pace.
“In the end I’m going out there and bowling the way I want to bowl,” he said. “I’m bowling short spells, which is what Michael has wanted me to do in this series so far and it’s something that I’ve really enjoyed doing.
“So I guess having that intimidation factor is definitely a bonus. In the past it probably wasn’t quite there in the last couple of Ashes series for me so to be able to come out, back my ability and know what I want to bowl, I’ve just really enjoyed that so I’ve continued to that throughout the series.”
Johnson was not picked for the Ashes tour earlier this year and his inclusion now is a major reason for the turnaround in fortunes. Despite losing heavily in England, Clarke thought there was little between the teams.
“Even in England we felt we were a lot closer than the results showed, that 3-0 defeat,” he said. “I can’t answer the question as to why we’ve won the first two Test matches so convincingly.
“It’s a positive for our team but I think, and I said it at the press (conference) just then, these two wins are satisfying because of the work we’ve put in over a long period of time.
“In our opinion as players it’s not a fluke that we’ve won the first two Test matches. It’s hard work that we put in in the UK and we thought we were so close but didn’t get over the line and were disappointed not to get success in England.
“So we as a team believe the work we’ve put in over a long period of time now we’re seeing some results, which is very pleasing.”
Although Australia are one win from regaining the Ashes, they will not underestimate the tourists when the series resumes on Friday at Perth or beyond.
“There’s no doubt England are a very tough team, a lot of toughness on the field,” Clarke added.
“That’s why it’s very competitive against Australia and we have to continue playing the brand of cricket we’re playing to beat them; there’s no doubt about it.
“Like I say, we won’t take any part of the England team for granted. They’re a very good team, they’ve got a lot of good players. We have to be at our best to keep them down.”