Johnson’s spell was fantastic

New Delhi: Former Australia coach Geoff Marsh termed speedster Mitchell Johnson’s spell against England at Perth as one of the best Ashes spells bowled by an Aussie.

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“Mitch is a fantastic bowler and his spell today was outstanding. His spell is right up there with the ones that the likes of Dennis Lillee, Terry Alderman, Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne have bowled over the years,” Marsh said.

“The best part is that he is a vital cog in this Australian team and they need him. He had an injury and he came back. 0-1 down with the Ashes staring at them, this is the kind of performance you need.

Ashes is all about great cricketing moments and a bit of inspiration,” Marsh, who has won the Ashes both as a coach and a player, said on the sidelines of the Ranji Trophy match between Mumbai and Delhi being played at the Roshanara ground.

Marsh also felt that just like McGrath had Brett Lee and Jason Gillespie as potent new-ball partners, Ryan Harris and Ben Hilfenhaus have the ability to complement Johnson.

“Harris can swing the ball and he has the ability to take wickets too,” he said.

Marsh, who will be coaching Sahara Pune Warriors in the IPL, said that Johnson has the ability to be as good as legendary left-arm pacer Wasim Akram but the comparison can wait.

“Wasim was one of the greatest in the game and we should compare Mitchell with Wasim once the former finishes his career,” he said.

The former coach didn’t want to criticise Ricky Ponting’s captaincy and said that this is a transition phase which will certainly pass.

“You have got to understand that Ricky doesn’t have a team that has McGrath, Warne, Gillespie, Hayden, Langer. It’s a rebuilding process that’s going on and it takes times. At the same time, teams like India, South Africa, Sri Lanka have all improved and bridged the gap. But the Australians are right there in the mix and you can’t really count them out.”

“As far as Ricky is concerned, he is having a bad time with the bat but he is a class player and will be back soon,” he said.

Marsh also defended the selection of left-arm spinner Michael Beer terming him as a talented bowler.

“I have seen him bowl in domestic cricket and I can tell you he is pretty good.”

Marsh felt that the emergence of Indian Premier League is the reason why India can’t be called a run-away favourites during next year’s World Cup in the sub-continent although Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s team stands a good chance of winning the coveted trophy.

“I know India stand a good chance of winning but don’t forget players from other nations have been playing IPL now. They are quite used to the Indian conditions unlike few years back. So one can expect a tough fight,” the former Australian opener who will be coaching the Sahara Pune Warriors, said.

Marsh, who has the rarest distinction of winning the World Cup both as a coach and a player, felt that India’s dismal batting performance at the Centurion yesterday is not something one should worry much.

“I was watching the match on television. The conditions were really difficult for batting. It was a bit overcast and the ball was doing a lot. This is one bad performance and you never judge a team by one bad day. You must realise they have done well over a consistent period of time and have the ability of bounce back,” Marsh concluded.