Johnson feels no pressure on return to England

Last Updated: Jul 05, 2010, 09:35 AM IST

Melbourne: Australian fast bowler Mitchell Johnson is confident he will put his difficult Ashes experience behind him when he returns to action in England next week.

The left-armer failed to cope with the pressure of leading his country`s attack during Australia`s defeat on English soil last year.

Johnson is back in England for a series against Pakistan, which is being played at neutral venues because of the security situation in Pakistan.

"I`m definitely more relaxed this time," Johnson told reporters at the Australian team hotel on Sunday.

The 28-year-old missed the recent one-day series defeat to England with an elbow infection.

But he has recovered and will likely line up against Pakistan in the two Twenty20 internationals on Monday and Tuesday at Edgbaston in Birmingham and the two-Test series at Lord`s and Headingley.

"Missing the one-day series (because of injury) means I have probably flown under the radar a bit this time," Johnson said.

"It`s totally different to last time. I don`t feel the same pressure and my game has improved a lot since I was last here."

Johnson acknowledges his nadir in England in 2009 but feels his struggles were overplayed.

He was the International Cricket Council`s player of the year, mainly for excelling in back-to-back series against South Africa, but his lack of control during the Ashes was met with derision by England fans.

"Frankly, it was only the one game that I was pretty disappointed in, and that was Lord`s," Johnson said.

"Other than that, although I definitely wasn`t at my best, I don`t think I was at my worst, either. Lord`s was definitely my lowest point."

He claimed 20 wickets in the Ashes series at an average of 32, including a match-winning second innings five for 69 at Headingley.

The lack of hype for the Pakistan series, compared to that which accompanies the Ashes, should aid Johnson`s English revival now.

"(Last year) I had that exposure of being the new leader of the attack ... " he said. "But I have showed (since) that I can pull my head together and go out there and play cricket and not let the emotions get to me."

The source of his elbow infection is still unknown. He was unable to confirm whether it was caused by a new tattoo on his right arm. He said he may have "knocked it on the plane".

"The elbow is really good at the moment," he added. "It has been a frustrating injury, because I know with an ankle problem I can ice it or strap it, but with this we didn`t really know what had caused it or how best to deal with it.

"It wasn`t really the pain, it was more how it affected my batting. We wanted to get it right before a big summer coming up and for these Tests in England."

He feels Pakistan will provide a tougher challenge than their last series, when Australia won 3-0 at home in 2009-10.

"We smashed them in Australia, but they have a good bowling attack, the left-armer (Mohammad) Aamer is a great prospect for them and has been doing exceptionally well," Johnson said.

"The Akmal brothers (Kamran and Umar) are a threat with the bat. They are a dangerous side."

The first Test, at Lord`s, begins on July 13.

Bureau Report

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