Panic on the streets of London
Here's how England can get their heads out of a hole and into the right place according to former fast bowler Geoff LawsonPT5M57S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2z5ik 620 349 December 11, 2013
Mitchell Johnson has welcomed England's intention to try and hit their way out of their funk against him with a simple message: ''Go ahead.''
Reaching speeds of more than 150km/h, the left-armer has been almost unplayable at times through a series of lethal spells that have turned the Ashes heavily in Australia's favour.
On Wednesday, England vice-captain Matt Prior said the tourists could not simply hope to survive against Johnson, who is expected to be even more difficult to face at the WACA Ground from Friday, as they try to salvage the series.
Hitting out: England batsman Matt Prior. Photo: WILLIAM WEST
In the 32-year-old's only appearance in Perth this season, for Western Australia in a Sheffield Shield match against South Australia, he turned back the clock to the days of Jeff Thomson or Shoaib Akhtar with one extraordinary delivery that flew over the wicketkeeper's head, bounced and crashed into the sight screen at the Gloucester Park end.
The Test wicket being used for the third Test is tipped to be even quicker. The message is that if England thought they had begun to work out a way to play him in the latter stages at Adelaide Oval - when Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle did most of the damage to finish the visitors off - then think again. ''It's a different
wicket to what it was in Adelaide. It was pretty flat and pretty slow towards the end and balls weren't really getting up,'' said Johnson, whose 7-40 in the first innings in Adelaide was one of the greatest Ashes performances by an Australian bowler.
''It's a lot easier to get a short ball here, which I'm not going to be afraid of using.''
Prior said England could not afford to attempt to defend themselves out of their hole against Johnson and the rest of the host's attack.
''I would hate to see this team, with the batting talent we have, just going out there trying to survive,'' the wicketkeeper said. ''That's not the way we're going to win in Australia, walking out all timid.
''We have to find ways of putting pressure back on the Aussie bowlers and that's the way I hope we'll play.''
Johnson responded soon after: ''If that's the way they think they can score then go ahead.''
A feature of Johnson's resurgence in these Ashes has been his attempts to not bowl near the head of opposition batsmen but get inside their heads.
The post-delivery mutterings and stares were a familiar sight in Adelaide. Some England batsmen took it better than others. Debutant Ben Stokes was not impressed about a collision for which they were both charged with a code-of-conduct breach - and subsequently found not guilty - while the baby-faced Joe Root could only smile.
To Johnson, the whole process is a bit of an art form.
''You can either be a bit lippy, or just a little smile here or there can make the batsman think,'' he said. ''Joe Root, we saw in Brisbane, he came back with a few words and I thought I'd cracked him then.
''You pick your players who either enjoy it or don't. You've got to be sure of which guys you want to go after and what to do. It's all part of the game to me. People call it sledging. I just call it mind games.
''It's a cute little smile that he [Root] has got. I didn't mind giving him a little one back as well. You're going to see plenty more of that I'm sure. I don't mind if a batter does go back at me. It's about being in control. As long as I can be in control of it, then I'm happy.''