Sport Cricket Australia in box seat after Johnson destroys Poms

Australia in box seat after Johnson destroys Poms

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Mitchell Johnson devastated England on day two of the first Test in Brisbane, leading a stunning fightback from Australia which brought the Ashes series to life.

Openers David Warner and Chris Rogers guided Australia to 0-65 at stumps, but it was Johnson’s four wickets that set the foundation for a commanding 224-run lead.

The Jekyll and Hyde of Australian fast bowlers repaid the faith shown by selectors as England capitulated to be all out for 136, giving up a 159-run deficit and making Australia’s first innings 295 seem substantial.

Warner (45 not out) and Chris Rogers (15no) made the most of an unlikely turnaround to extend the home side’s dominance by stumps.

After some wayward signs early, Johnson found his radar.

His sheer speed and aggression sparked a collapse of 6-9 within 54 minutes in the middle session as England fell to their lowest total at the Gabba since a second innings 79 in 2002.  

Johnson’s enthralling performance at the Gabba was a rare throwback to the glory years.

“You’d always like to have a bowler with Mitch’s pace in your team,” said Brad Haddin.

“Anyone who can push the radar up around 150km/h can make it uncomfortable for the opposition.

“Today was just reward for a lot of work he’s put in.

“We had to earn the right to get to that position.”

Unplayable at his best, but a disaster when things go awry, Johnson’s poor showing against England three years ago looked like spelling the end of his Ashes career.

But armed with a new found mental fortitude, Johnson’s 64 with the bat in combination with Brad Haddin (94) salvaged Australia’s innings.

And now with the ball, the 32-year-old has put his side in a potentially match-winning position.

Following the dominance of Stuart Broad (6-81), the reply from Australia’s bowling arsenal was formidable.

Between lunch and tea England lost 6-39, throwing away a solid start which saw them to 2-82.

Opener Michael Carberry made 40 and Stuart Broad 32, but no other England batsman passed 18.

The Ashes holders fell helplessly into all the traps laid out by Australian captain Michael Clarke.

Harris (3-28) and Johnson (4-61) took care of the England top four.

But the match really turned on its head when much-maligned off-spinner Nathan Lyon had run-machine Ian Bell caught by Steve Smith at short-leg for 5.

The very next ball it was deja vu, with Smith flying to his right from bat-pad to nab Matt Prior.

Prior had clearly nudged one onto his pads – despite Lyon not going up for an appeal and the decision being referred upstairs by Australia.

The comeback was set-up on the ball before lunch, when Johnson extracted Trott for 10.

After a less than auspicious start where he swayed too often down leg, Johnson returned to the attack with the specific job of exposing Trott’s weakness against the short ball.

Johnson maintained a formidable speed up around 150km/h, also removing Carberry, Joe Root and Graeme Swann and striking Broad so viciously in the head he had to change his helmet.

Root was out caught at slip off a no ball, but it was Australia’s day.

Harris celebrated the key wicket of Kevin Pietersen (18) to make it 3-82, and from there the flood gates opened.