Mitch Johnson and Australia found their swagger while England stumbled on a dramatic day two.
The wayward and sometimes intolerable Johnson re-ignited his Test career in stunning circumstances. The Australian selectors keep spinning the line that Johnson is their match winner. In a rarity, those much criticised men were proved accurate. For the first time in nearly 18 months, Johnson found his line to the left hand batsman and more importantly his length and pace. He managed to execute what a left arm bowler should do: bowl the in-swinger. Furthermore, the inspired Johnson maintained, if not, heightened his rage from the previous day. The English batsman were left searching for answers as they lost 10 wickets for 100 runs. Ironically, the man who no one ‘rated’ was the man who may have just dragged Australia back from obscurity and into the contest. Perhaps, England’s only ill-judgement in the series- not respecting Johnson- will cost them the Test match and the momentum heading into the Boxing Day Test.
Despite Australia’s growing strangle-hold in the match, the one lingering question is yet to be answered. Can Australia take 20 wickets? Australia managed to rip apart an English lineup in the first innings of the first Test but then was embarrassed the next innings. England’s first innings in Brisbane and in Perth share one commonality: both innings were destroyed by a moment of madness where one Australian bowler had all his birthdays come at once.
Was Johnson’s inspiring and fiery spell an aberration or will he be able to continue to bowl with today’s near-majestic rhythm and aggression. For Australia to wrench themselves out of misery, Johnson must reproduce his relentless attack on the old enemy and perhaps, more critically, the support cast of bowlers must play their role.
England’s next dig will tell all.
Foreseeably, the winner of this Test will be the eventual owner of the Urn. The enthralling intensity is back between these two desperate sides. The Ashes series is certainly alive and well.