Loss Of Mo' Won't Take Johnson's Mojo

Image courtesy of sport.uk.msn.com
Mitchell Johnson spooked England in the ODI series in September. Image courtesy of sport.uk.msn.com

England finally got a win during the week, albeit against a Prime Minister’s XI in Canberra made up of some pretty decent domestic cricketers and former international quick Brett Lee. The bowlers finally got amongst the wickets, while Gary Ballance and Jos Buttler showed what a couple of unscarred, fresh faces can do, both hitting 50s. The bad news, though, was Alastair Cook’s continued struggles against the new ball. As if his Test series wasn’t bad enough – both from a batting and captaincy point of view – he managed just four in the opening ODI before getting knocked over second-ball by Lee at Manuka Oval. Paceman Steve Finn has been sent home by coach Ashley Giles to work on serious technical issues, but the skipper could probably do with getting out the country as soon as possible, as well.

Australia continued on its merry way in the first ODI with Aaron Finch becoming the first Victorian to reach three figures at the MCG when he blasted 121 off 128 balls to steer his team to victory with what should have been a tricky chase of 270. Instead, the home side got there comfortably with David Warner and Michael Clarke also contributing. Shane Watson had an outing he’d rather forget going for 36 off his five overs before Chris Jordan bowled him for a second-ball duck. Coach Darren Lehmann has rested the all-rounder for the next three matches with Dan Christian coming in to the squad after a couple of good performances for Brisbane Heat in the Big Bash.

After resting him from the opening encounter, Australia is set to unleash Ashes hero Mitchell Johnson on a tormented England at his former home ground, the ‘Gabba. Johnson has tended to do his best work in limited overs cricket overseas. On home soil he averages 28 with the ball but he has done his best work on foreign lands where his average is just 24 per wicket. That all changes against the Poms, though; in seven ODIs here he has 12 wickets at 21. He didn’t take bundles of wickets in the one-day series in England in September last year, but he did frighten the life out of some batsmen – Jonathan Trott, included – and that fear seemed to grip them throughout the Test series, as well.

Johnson picked up 3/11 at the ‘Gabba last season, but his efforts were in vain as Australia fell short of defending its awful total of 74 against Sri Lanka. Not one of the hosts’ top eight managed to reach double figures, and it was only a 34-run last-wicket stand between Mitchell Starc and Xavier Doherty that gave the bowlers any sort of total to defend. Prior to that match, Australia had won its past six matches in Brisbane.

The track at the ‘Gabba was an absolute road when Hobart and Brisbane both cracked the 200-mark in the Big Bash earlier in the tournament, but the wicket hasn’t been as easy to bat on in recent fixtures. Australia has won five of the six matches played there against England, although the tourists have won their last four matches at the ground against opposition other than the green and gold. England has been solid enough on recent overseas tours going down 3-2 in India at the start of 2013 before taking out its three-match series with New Zealand 2-1. Australia has beaten England in seven of their last eight clashes Down Under.

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