Perth: Rejuvenated Australian pace bowler Mitchell Johnson went back to the future for a potentially Ashes-turning bowling performance on the second day of the third Test at the WACA Ground here on Friday.
Dropped for the second Test in Adelaide, which Australia lost by an innings to go 1-0 down in the series, the left-armer turned the clock back in stunning fashion, claiming 6-38 at the same venue where he picked up 8-61 against South Africa in 2008.
The haul, which came after he studied videos of his best performances, included four wickets in just 27 balls and enabled Australia to revive their Ashes hopes, claiming an 81-run first innings lead after bowling England out for 187.
It was also a remarkable form reversal for Johnson, who was dropped after taking 0-170 in the drawn first Test at the Gabba.
Johnson, the ICC Cricketer of the Year in 2009, said it was combination of hard work, renewed confidence and work on his technique that enabled him to regain his swing and skittle the English.
“I looked back at that footage from 2009 when I bowled well in South Africa,” he said.
“Just looking at the positioning of my body and where my momentum was going and I think that’s really the key.”
“It was momentum going forward. I was just trying to get that back into my head and get that action going, getting my momentum forward through the crease.”
“I was coming off the ball a little bit too early, and my arm was dropping. I got my arm higher and got my wrist behind the ball
Gaining savage late swing, Johnson picked up the wickets of Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood in quick succession, the last three all trapped lbw by prodigious inswingers, before returning to remove Chris Tremlett and James Anderson late in the innings.
Johnson said it was the most he had ever swung the ball, and said it made him a more dangerous bowler.
He also gained confidence from his cameo with the bat on the opening day, when he top-scored with 62, after making a duck in his dismal first Test.
The Australian selectors controversially instructed Johnson to go away and work in the nets as preparation for the third Test, rather than playing domestic first-class cricket and he said the decision paid off.
“I worked really hard in the nets and I was confident I had done enough in the nets,” he said.
Johnson said he was also inspired by some verbal byplay with Pietersen and Anderson, who were his third and sixth victims respectively, with words exchanged between opposing players several times during the day as tensions rose.
“There was a little bit of verbal going on out there,” Johnson said.
“I think he (Pietersen) was being a bit of a smart-arse. I think the crowd like a bit of fire as long as it is not over the line.”