JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Boys are back in town: Johnson, Starc take over

Out of left field ... Mitchell Starc celebrates a wicket on day one at the WACA Ground.

Out of left field ... Mitchell Starc celebrates a wicket on day one at the WACA Ground. Photo: Getty Images

MITCHELL STARC has spent most of the past 12 months on the fringes of the Australian attack, while Mitchell Johnson could not have been further from contention for most of that time.

But the two Mitchells formed an unlikely union, with the breeze at their backs from the river end at the WACA Ground, to jolt South Africa with an inspired assault of left-arm pace on the first day of the Perth Test.

When Johnson last played for Australia, in Johannesburg in November last year, he suffered a toe injury that proved a blessing, for he needed to rehabilitate his action and his mind away from the harsh glare of a public that had lost patience with his waywardness.

Starc was a few weeks off his Test debut against New Zealand in Brisbane. The towering paceman possessed a more reliable radar than his namesake but was overshadowed by the more confident young spearhead James Pattinson and made just two Test appearances for the summer.

While Johnson retreated from the spotlight and worked on his run-up and delivery with his mentor Dennis Lillee in his adopted home town of Perth, Starc became something of a project for the national selectors, who kept him around the Test squad and accelerated his development with the limited-overs teams.

With the exception of Pattinson, Starc was arguably the form fast bowler in the country leading up to the first Test against South Africa but the selectors stuck with the experienced Ben Hilfenhaus for the first two Tests in Brisbane and Adelaide. Onlookers at the WACA on Friday were entitled to ask where he had been all summer, and whether Australia could have used the 22-year-old's wicket-taking nous in Adelaide last week.

Having taken the new ball, Starc found his length for his spell before lunch. He snuck a yorker under the bat of Alviro Petersen. Then, he set up Jacques Kallis with a short ball that was fended awkwardly towards the slips, before removing the wounded South African champion's off stump with another yorker.

Johnson, 31, suggested with his first spell that he was back in town, the town that has hosted his two best Test performances, by homing in on Graeme Smith's gloves. Johnson has broken bones in both of Smith's hands in the past, and this time a nasty lifter was gloved away to gully.

If Johnson's lunch figures of 0-10 from five overs illustrated his accuracy, his hostile welcome for South African debutant Dean Elgar demonstrated his hostility. A bouncer, dug in at Elgar's body, induced an ugly hook shot and a top edge that was comfortably caught by Matthew Wade.

The new batsman, Robin Peterson, was then greeted with a 145km/h delivery that almost shaved his off stump.

South Africa had been Mitched.

Related Coverage

Featured advertisers