Johnson content to be focus of crowd’s jibes as Australia look to bounce back

Australia bowler Mitchell Johnson celebrates taking the wicket of England batsman Joe Root at Lord's (Picture: Nick Potts/PA Wire).
Australia bowler Mitchell Johnson celebrates taking the wicket of England batsman Joe Root at Lord's (Picture: Nick Potts/PA Wire).
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Mitchell Johnson may discover he gets less stick from the Trent Bridge crowd than he did at Edgbaston last week, but he will take every ‘interaction’ that comes his way as a compliment.

Johnson has become the Australian all English spectators love to jeer, ever since his occasionally hapless performances when Andrew Strauss’s tourists won the Ashes Down Under for the first time in a generation in 2010-11.

So it was at Edgbaston last week when the notoriously raucous crowd at that venue chanted and drawled his first name, and revisited the famous Barmy Army chorus about his inconsistent bowling.

Johnson was the scourge of England two winters ago, with 37 wickets as Alastair Cook’s team suffered an embarrassing 5-0 whitewash, and he reached 300 scalps in Tests in Birmingham when he had Yorkshire’s Jonny Bairstow caught behind with the first of two ferocious bouncers in the same over.

The second saw off Ben Stokes for a duck and although Johnson finished the three-day match with his efforts once again being mocked as England went 2-1 up, he will be happy to re-engage in Nottingham.

“Everywhere around the world, they target players and try to take them off their game,” he said.

“I take it as a compliment.”

Johnson was again in the crowd’s sights by the time England were completing their eight-wicket win at Edgbaston.

But he insisted: “I really enjoyed it.

“It was nice to hear the chants of Mitchell Mitchell (even) when England won the game.

“I tried to have a bit of fun with it as well throughout that game and enjoy myself.

“I’ve been able to take the focus away from other team-mates a little bit, and I guess from my point of view it is a compliment to me.”

He was not always able to take such a balanced view, specifically on his first Ashes tour six years ago.

“It definitely drives me – that’s changed over the years,” he said. “Experiencing it in ’09 was very different to how it is now.

“It’s something I’m able to block out or get involved when I need to.

“I used to sing it in ’09 in my head as I ran in to bowl. You’re in a bit of trouble (when you do that).

“That’s one thing I’ve been able to block out.”

One thing he did not manage in Birmingham was to replicate those two brilliant early deliveries against Bairstow and Stokes.

“I didn’t really go on from it,” he said.

“I’m scratching my head a little bit about not continuing on from that (first over), and that’s something I’ll look at this game.”

Australia, collectively, landed few blows and Johnson added: “We need to really improve in this game.

“It’s like a ‘grand final’ for us.”

It is one too in which England will not have their star player, all-time leading wicket-taker James Anderson absent at his favourite venue because of a side strain.

Johnson said: “It’s a massive loss for them.

“They’ll have to bring somebody else that has to match him, so it’s going to be pretty difficult to do. They will miss him. Whoever they bring in will have big pressure on them.”