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Monday, November 29, 2010

Watching England post 517 for 1 in their second innings at the Gabba showcased that this England could bounce back from adversity at a venue where historically most touring sides have shown a propensity to wilt, but it also further drove home the fact that this Australian team does not have fast bowlers who can deliver under pressure. By the time the players shook hands as the Test ended in a draw, Peter Siddle's six-wicket haul, including a hat-trick, on the first day was completely out of the memory. Instead, images of Siddle, Hilfenhaus, Watson and that most over-rated of fast bowlers, Mitchell Johnson, with their hands on head or hip, looking forlorn, where what remained strongest. Cardiff, Mohali, Melbourne and now Brisbane. Four instances where an Aussie attack failed to take wickets when they had to; each ball and each over resulted in the opposition's confidence increasing and the Australians' falling.


The first man to attract criticism would be Johnson. He seems likeliest to be dropped for Doug Bollinger for the second Test. An 18-ball 0, a dropped catch, and match figures of 0-170; his first wicket-less Test in 39 opportunities. I've never been a big fan of Johnson - look closely and many of his wickets have come off not-so-good deliveries - and he isnt' express pace nor is he as good a swinger of the cricket ball as many point him out to be. His waywardness is too frequent. He vacillates between being good and horrible (last summer, anyone?) but now he just seems confused as to what role he's supposed to be playing: flat-out quick to rough up the batsmen, swing bowler to try and work out the opposition, or defensive bowler?

Johnson drifted the ball onto Strauss and Cook's pads too often, as if off stump were the plague. The bouncer was more tennis-ball fair which the two lefties could pull with ease. There was no movement, and Johnson's pace was well short of what he's capable of.

Ricky Ponting has always backed Johnson, but what does he do now?  Shane Watson said it was silly to focus on Johnson as all the bowlers had struggled for consistency, but Johnson's last five Tests have produced 11 wickets at 55.36. You can always argue that numbers don't define a player, but Australia's management has some serious thinking to do ahead of the Adelaide Test. They need their strike bowler tearing in and hustling the batsmen, repeatedly producing breakthroughs, not kicking the turf in frustration and loping back to his mark.

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