Mitchell Johnson is free to continue intimidating England’s batsmen after the tearaway quick was cleared to play in Friday’s Perth Test despite a physical clash with Ben Stokes.
Johnson was named man of the match on Monday for the second successive Test after claiming 7-40 and 1-73, for a total of 17 wickets at 12.70 in the series.
Skipper Michael Clarke’s men take a two-nil lead going to Perth and are poised to reclaim the Ashes, if predictions of the home team’s pace attack tearing through England’s batsmen are accurate.
Australian coach Darren Lehmann suggested Monday’s celebrations would be a little reserved after wrapping up a 218-run win at Adelaide Oval.
“All the players will enjoy the moment today, but it won’t be a normal celebration,” Lehmann said.
“It’ll be about getting prepared and recovered for Perth.
“It’ll be a lot tougher than everyone is saying in the press. There’ll be bounce and carry in the pitch.
“The challenge for us is backing that up again, not getting complacent.”
Johnson and Stokes collided during the 84th over of England’s second innings on Sunday.
ICC match referee Jeff Crowe said both players pleaded not guilty to making inappropriate and deliberate physical contact.
It’s understood the charges were dismissed, enabling Australia to name an unchanged squad for Perth including 12th man James Faulkner, plus standby quicks Doug Bollinger and Nathan Coulter-Nile.
Clarke had the luxury of under-bowling allrounder Shane Watson, who sent down only nine overs in Adelaide and should be able to shoulder more of the load in Perth.
Strike weapon Johnson paid credit to his fellow bowlers after Ryan Harris (3-54) and Peter Siddle (4-57) did the damage in England’s second innings.
“I’m bowling in short spells. That is what Michael Clarke has wanted me to do through this series so far, and it’s something that I have really enjoyed doing,” Johnson said.
“I guess having that intimidation factor is definitely a bonus.
“Look in the past and it wasn’t probably quite there in the last couple of Ashes series for me so to be able to come out, just back my ability, and know what I wanted to bowl, I have just really enjoyed it.”
Re-born as a force in Test cricket after being overlooked for the 2013 Ashes series in the UK, the 32-year-old has emerged as the main difference between the two sides.
Clarke admits Perth is the perfect venue for Australia to keep the ball rolling against the shellshocked English.
Australia have lost to England once in 12 Perth Tests. That was 35 years ago, before Clarke or Cook were born.
“It’s exciting that we’re going to a ground that we feel so comfortable playing at,” Clarke said.
“The positive is, we know the conditions and guys like Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle love bowling when there is a bit more pace and bounce.”
Alastair Cook, who’s averaging 20.50 in the series, says it’s hard to lecture his batsmen on the need to lift if he’s not producing.
Cook says while side have been largely written off to retain the Ashes, all is not lost.
“Our record at Perth is of no relevance whatsoever. You can say we haven’t won there for however many years,” he said.
“We’ve got to look deep into our souls, deep into our hearts, and turn it round.”