x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Johnson's fate in the balance

If cricketing icons in England and Australia earn their reputations by their exploits in Ashes contests above anything else, Mitchell Johnson is going to have to get a wriggle on.

Whom the gods wish to destroy, they first call promising. So wrote Cyril Connolly, the English literary critic, as he tried to work out where it had all gone wrong.

It is one thing calling a young cricketer promising, but quite something else to deem them a "once in lifetime bowler". Seeing as that appraisal came from that Australian cricket great, Dennis Lillee, Mitchell Johnson should immediately have considered himself cursed.

He once said Lillee's testimony, made when he impressed the great fast bowler at a training camp aged 17, did hinder his progress because it made him relax too much.

Over a decade on, and it appears to be a millstone weighing him down. Statistics of 166 wickets at nearly 30 in 38 Tests are a touch prosaic for a 29-year-old destined for greatness.

And if cricketing legends in England and Australia earn their reputations by their exploits in Ashes contests above anything else, he is going to have to get a wriggle on.

Unless he was able relocate his radar in the final day at the Gabba earlier this morning, he could be dispensed with for the second Test in Adelaide.

Since the post-Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee and Jason Gillespie austerity era has started to bite, Doug Bollinger has been the pick of Australia's fast bowlers.

By the time the sides arrive in Adelaide, Bollinger should be ripe for a return, meaning one of Johnson, Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus will likely have to make way. Johnson's bid for greatness may have to be put on hold.

pradley@thenational.ae