Johnson has Ashes aspirations
Mitchell Johnson is intent on staking a claim for the Ashes in Australia’s remaining ICC Champions Trophy action.
Left-arm paceman Johnson was tipped for the top as a teenager by Aussie legend Dennis Lillee but numerous injuries over the years meant he was made to wait until the age of 24 for his international debut.
It took the Queenslander considerable time to come to terms with his billing as the next big thing but he marked his first outing against England with three wickets, including that of Kevin Pietersen.
Australia’s attack showed their winter plans for England’s big hitters by using the bouncer effectively in the six-wicket win at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium.
Australia’s bowling strategy is now planned by Troy Cooley, England’s bowling coach until earlier this year, and Johnson snared Pietersen with the fast bowler’s one-two of bumper followed by full delivery.
“That one probably zipped through a bit more,” said Johnson. “My plan to him was to get a short one in early and then try to get that nick.
“Against Pietersen maybe the short ball is something we will try - from the footage that I’ve seen, he likes to get forward early.
“When I first started in this team I wasn’t very confident so my confidence has definitely grown.
“If I get that chance to play in the Ashes or another series later on in the year, hopefully my confidence will be there.”
Cooley has been Johnson’s mentor up in Brisbane, scene of next month’s opening Test, shortening his run-up and passing on tips on reverse swing.
In 2005 Simon Jones gave much of the credit for his impressive performances against Australia to Cooley.
There is every chance Johnson will be in the squad for the Gabba, his home ground, and hopes to have added some extra pace should he make his Test debut.
“It would be great to be able to bowl faster and swing the ball,” said Johnson. “If you are bowling 140-kilometres-per-hour plus and swinging the ball, it’s going to be hard to face.
“That’s something that I’m working on and to be consistent with - I want to try to get around that 150.”
Lillee identified Johnson’s potential to break the 90-mile-per-hour mark (144kph) in the late 1990s.
“It probably did put a little bit of pressure on me,” said Johnson. “I was 17 at the time. I hadn’t played much cricket.
“Dennis’ comment was obviously awesome but I think in the end it sort of got to me a little bit.
“I think the best thing for me was when I did lose my contract for Queensland and it really sort of woke me up.
“I went and trained my backside off, just played the game and did not worry about anyone’s comments.”
Australia’s final Group A clash is against hosts India at Mohali on Sunday.