Ashes 2013/14: England will attack 'fragile' Mitchell Johnson, says Steve Harmison
Steve Harmison says England's batsmen will try to hit 'fragile' Mitchell Johnson out of the Ashes.
Last Updated: 14/11/13 2:53pm
Former fast bowler Harmison, who played in four Ashes series, winning two, laughed off Shane Warne's suggestion that recalled Johnson will shake up the tourists, branding the often erratic left-arm seamer 'fragile'.
Johnson, 32, has taken 205 wickets in his 51 Tests at 30.93 including a match-winning spell of 6-38 in the third Ashes Test of the 2010/11 series.
But he was dropped for this summer's series, which England won 3-0 to retain the urn, after dropping down the pecking order because of his wayward line and length.
Although Johnson subsequently showed a return to form as Australia came out on top in the one-day NatWest Series, Harmison told What's The Story? that the seamer can expect England to give him a tough examination.
"Their batting is fragile - I don't think it is that strong - and they are going on about Mitchell Johnson bowling fast, bowling at 90mph and bowling at people's rib cages and heads," said Harmison, part of England's Ashes-winning teams of 2005 and 2009.
"If he can't get them out, he's going to knock them out. As a former fast bowler who had that in his armoury, pace isn't everything because the quicker you bowl, the further it goes sometimes.
"I think England will look to dominate Mitchell Johnson from ball one. As soon as he comes on to bowl, I can see someone like Kevin Pietersen making a bee-line for him. It wouldn't surprise me if he runs down the wicket to him and really gets right in Mitchell Johnson's ear.
"I think Mitchell Johnson is a tad fragile and England can prey on that. Mitchell Johnson will either win the series for Australia or he will not be playing in the second or third Test match, because I think England will go hard at him."
On Wednesday, Australia captain Michael Clarke told a news conference that his opposite number Alastair Cook had told him England's line-up for the first Test in Brisbane, which starts in a week's time.
Clarke claimed that Michael Carberry, who has just one Test cap to his name, would open with Cook and that Steven Finn and Boyd Rankin would miss out on a place in England's attack to Chris Tremlett.
However, Harmison dismissed Clarke's claims as "a rant" and said the home skipper would be better off focusing on his own batting - and finding a way to play the short ball - than trying to engage the tourists in a war of words.
"It gets funnier every time I see it," said Harmison, who took 226 wickets in 63 Tests.
"I just thought that he should have been in a room full of 250 corporate people and he was having an after-dinner speech; it wasn't something, I think, that he thought would go all over the world.
"To be fair, I'd like Michael Clarke to keep talking. Let's not get away from the fact that he is a fantastic captain and he's a fantastic cricketer, but he's the only man who stays in the way of England winning the Ashes and really humiliating this Australian team.
"I don't know if he's trying to be funny or clever. I don't think Alastair Cook knows his team, his bowling line-up. England went over there with two real head-aches on the selection front.
"First of all I think they stumbled across Michael Carberry because if Alastair Cook was fit for the opening warm-up game in Perth, I'm not sure Carberry would have played because I think England would have been looking at the time at Root and Cook.
"The three seam bowlers [in contention for the first Test] are all similar, so wheteher you play Rankin, Finn or Tremlett, they are all going to cause similar problems to the Australian batsmen and the one thing that Clarke [struggles with] - if he has got any weakness in his technique - is the bouncing ball.
"This has got to be Michael Clarke's last rant and he's got to stop listening to Shane Warne, because I don't think he's very good for him at this moment in time.
"As much as Shane Warne was the greatest player ever to play the game, he played in an era where he had a good team around him - they could talk the talk as well as walk the walk.
"I'm not sure Clarke has got the team to back that up and because of that he needs to concentrate on his game because he's the only one who is standing in the way of maybe Australia really being humiliated and England coming away with a 3-0, 4-0 or maybe even possibly a 5-0 win."
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