Craig McDermott thinks the situation for England´s batsmen could go from bad to worse when they face an even faster Mitchell Johnson in the third Ashes test in Perth beginning on Friday.
The former test paceman, returning in this series as Australia´s fast bowling coach, has predicted the conditions will be ripe at the WACA for Johnson to bowl faster than he has while picking up 17 wickets in Australia´s first two test wins in the Ashes series.
Johnson moved from Queensland to Western Australia and has made the WACA his new home ground. He has taken 36 wickets in five tests at the ground, which is considered the quickest test venue in Australia.
He returned his career-best innings haul there against South Africa in 2008 and destroyed the England batting lineup at the ground three years ago, snaring 6-38 and 3-44 in a man-of-the-match performance in Australia´s only win of that series.
“I´d like to see him in front of his home ground … whether it be day one or two, what the adrenaline does to his pace,” McDermott said.
“Not forgetting, it´s not all about speed, it´s about making sure the ball is on the right spot, and that´s what Mitchell has done since his return to international cricket,” he added.
“He´s been able to (get) good line and length, mixed up with some very good short-pitch bowling.”
The 32-year-old Johnson has bowled consistently above 150 kph (93 mph) and is the fastest bowler most of the English batsmen will have faced. His speed combined with his slinging, left-arm action and penchant for bowling short-pitch bouncers has troubled the English batsmen and earned him back-to-back man-of-the-match honors.
He took nine wickets on a bouncy pitch in Brisbane, where Australia hasn´t lost since 1988, but his fearsome 7-40 in the first innings at Adelaide was more astounding because it happened on a flat, docile wicket that had already yielded 570 runs to Australia in the first innings.
At the WACA, which traditionally has even more bounce and carry than the Gabba ground in Brisbane and where England hasn´t won a test since 1978, the touring batsmen can expect another barrage of short-pitch bowling.
“I´m sure they think about it a fair bit,” McDermott said. “A bloke coming at you at 150-155 kph with a slinging action is not a lot of fun, I can tell you.”
McDermott batted against the great West Indies pace batteries in the 1980s, after he´d burst onto the scene as an aggressive young paceman in his own right.
He knows the value of hunting in a pack, so he´s pleased that Peter Siddle and Ryan Harris picked up seven wickets between them in England´s second innings in Adelaide, when Johnson only took one wicket.
“It´s not just about Mitchell´s form. We´ve bowled well as a unit,” McDermott said, who expected the three fast bowlers to continue to attack the England batsmen.