Today Michael Clarke cunningly relayed his predicted England XI in the Australian press conference held apparently to announce his own squad for the first Test, in what can only be an attempt to camouflage the peculiarly absurd shortcomings in his own side. Unfortunately Pup, no matter how inevitably correct you are about England’s foregone conclusion of a Test XI, I am onto you and shall NOT be deterred from analysing this Australian squad, as follows:-
Particularly surprising is the inclusion of limited over cricket specialists Shane Watson, Mitchell Johnson, James Faulkner, George Bailey, David Warner and Steve Smith. With the announced squad numbering just 12, you would assume Bailey, Smith and Warner then become almost dead certainties to play as batsmen, plus one of Faulkner and Watson is in as the designated all-rounder. Which leaves Johnson as an automatic pick with Siddle, Harris and Lyon.
The batting line-up mockery speaks for itself. Warner, Watson, Bailey and Smith, not a Test average above 40 for any of them. Faulkner it is harsher to judge after a solitary Test where he looked an OK prospect but he won’t play if Watson is fit anyway and has not yet produced a sample size to induce mockery, which leaves us with Mitchell.
My first article on this blog was entitled “Mitchell Johnson a Desperate Dice Roll” and in it I decried Johnson’s lack of consistency with more than 10 overs to bowl in a day, his ‘Souvarov’ moustache and his overall flakiness. Things haven’t changed and I suspect that the Australian selectors deep down inside know it, hence Johnson only featuring in four of Australia’s twenty-four Tests since November 2011 (works out basic maths = 1/6 of Australia’s Tests across the past two years).
Michael Clarke then proceeded to comment about Johnson possibly being named “player of the series”, utterly baseless drivel when you look at Johnson’s career history and indicative of this dice roll mentality that Australia seem to have with the player: You don’t win the lottery without buying a ticket…yet in reality you usually don’t win it even if you do, particularly if you’ve only bought a ticket as a result of all the other tickets you’d rather buy being injured. And so falls down the analogy.
Anyway, Mitch built up a head of white-ball steam against England and India just as all others around him were breaking down to leap to the top of the pecking order. He’s pumped, he bowls fast, he’s not shy of a wonderfully entertaining foul-mouthed tirade where no-one really knows what has been said apart from those in the middle and perhaps the stump mic sound man, but we’re all wonderfully entertained anyway as it is apparently “good sport”. At his best Johnson becomes a comical bully character imposing himself on others in the manner of Fulton Reed from the Mighty Ducks; his brute rawness and aggression sometimes simply too much for the ‘normal’ kids who play and live in a slightly different sphere, but unfortunately when the situation demanded the need for subtler tactics poor old Fulton was a liability and found completely wanting – even his crap wispy moustache was inconsolable.
To Johnson’s credit, he hasn’t been in form quite this scintillating since the last time he was about to face England in an Ashes Test at the Gabba, coming off *that* man of the match 6-38 bowling performance in Perth in 2010…how did that pan out, again?