Sport Cricket The moment Mitchell Johnson almost punched Kevin Pietersen
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The moment Mitchell Johnson almost punched Kevin Pietersen

Johnson and Pietersen exchange words. Photo: Getty
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Mitchell Johnson’s clashes with Kevin Pietersen headlined many Ashes battles.

The pair had a famous stoush in the Boxing Day Test of 2013, while they traded barbs at each other through the media at regular intervals during their formidable careers.

But it has taken more than seven years for details of a pre-Ashes Test bust-up to emerge, with retired quick Johnson writing he had “every intention in the world of hitting” Pietersen in his new book Resilient, which was released on Monday.

The physical fight almost ensued during an on-field warm-up before a Test in England in 2009, when England batsman Pietersen “played a few pull shots” in the direction of the Australian team.

“It wasn’t exactly harmless because we could easily have stood on a ball in our run-ups,” Johnson wrote in his book.

“I threw a ball back to where he was and I suggested he stop it. Of course, he didn’t.

“When he hit another one towards me I kicked it as far as I could in the other direction.

“Words were exchanged and KP [Pietersen] crossed the line in what he said.

“He got really personal and I’m not going to dignify his comments by repeating them.

“The red mist descended and I stormed in his direction with every intention in the world of hitting him.”

mitchell johnson kevin pietersen
Johnson gets the better of Pietersen in Melbourne. Photo: Getty

Fellow paceman Stuart Clark intervened, stopping what would have been a seriously ugly confrontation.

“Stu Clark saw it all happen and came rushing over just as we came together and jumped between us,” he wrote.

“KP is a big guy but I was very worked up.

“Fortunately, Stu is bigger than both of us because it took a bit to convince me not to go through with what I planned.

“I am so glad Stu was there. A few years later there was a minor scuffle between Davey Warner and Joe Root in a bar at Birmingham and that had serious ramifications.

“I can tell you that this wouldn’t have been a minor scuffle.

“I was pretty disappointed with what he said and it stayed in the back of my mind after that.”

Johnson added that he has spoken with Pietersen after the incident and that he “seemed okay” but that he had “gone too far” on that occasion.

mitchell johnson kevin pietersen
Johnson always enjoyed dismissing Pietersen. Photo: Getty

“You can’t bring family or stuff like that in it and I’m sure he knew [he] had gone too far, but he did it on purpose because he wanted to get me going,” he said.

Aussies lack edge: Johnson

The paceman also wrote that Australia’s Test side has lost the edge they held over opposition sides after the retirement of Brad Haddin, and David Warner’s bid to improve his image.

The former left-arm quick felt it was a big issue in Australia’s 2015 Ashes tour to England, which ended in a 3-1 defeat.

“Pete [Nevill] is a fine keeper and a good batsman but, in terms of personality, they [he and Haddin] couldn’t be further apart,” Johnson wrote.

“‘Hadds’ is the enforcer, he loves a scrap and if he finds an opening in an opponent he is in there digging around straight away. I came to miss that in the following Tests.

“Davey Warner had taken a vow of silence or something.

“He’d copped a lot of criticism for his scraps on the field, including from the chief executive at Cricket Australia and the ICC so now he was a vice-captain he backed off.

mitchell johnson kevin pietersen
Warner and Haddin in noisier days. Photo: Getty

“It wasn’t a great thing for the rest of us. Test cricket is a long game and conflict boosts your energy.

“Sometimes when we’ve been in the field all day a clash gets my adrenalin running again. There definitely wasn’t enough conflict that winter.

“Sometimes I looked around for somebody to start a war of words but nobody did. ‘Hadds’ was absent. Davey was silent.”

Mitchell Johnson’s book is on sale now and further information can be found here

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