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Ashes: Mitchell Johnson doesn’t plan to change a thing in 2014

Mitchell Johnson doesn’t deal in New Year’s resolutions. And when you’ve been travelling as well as the reborn Australian fast bowler over the past few months, why bother changing a thing?
Nanjing Night Net

Even as a new year has arrived, Johnson is still coming to terms with what he accomplished at the tail end of the last.

”I haven’t stepped back and had a look at it yet,” said Johnson, who has 31 wickets for the Ashes series with Friday’s fifth Test in Sydney to come. ”That’s something that when I’ve retired or finished this series, I can have a look at and be really proud of.

”I’m proud of it at the moment, but I don’t think it’s really sunk in. Even winning the Test in Perth I don’t think it’d really sunk in yet that we’d won the Ashes. That’s why I think we want to win 5-0 – we’ve got that hunger there. We want to go on with it so that desire is still there and it’s something we’ll look back in years to come and be really proud of and hopefully be one of the greatest teams to have played in the modern era.”

That final statement sums up what an astonishing turnaround Johnson and Australia have engineered this summer. He was in India nine months ago when the Australians were dubbed the worst team to tour there, and wasn’t even part of the squad that was then beaten 3-0 in England.

Number one in the world, a place in the history books – Michael Clarke’s Australians had kept their lofty ambitions in check for much of the series. But now that England is thoroughly buried and they have their own mojo back, they want to make sure it doesn’t go the way of Johnson’s ‘mo’, which will finally get the razor treatment after Sydney.

Just how realistic their goals are will be determined next month when they meet the world’s best side, South Africa, on the Proteas’ turf. It was in Johannesburg more than two years ago that Australia last won a Test away from home against one of the major powers of world cricket – South Africa, England or India – and their record on the road in 2013 showcased just how challenging they have found it to excel in foreign territory.

With a new lease of life, Johnson, 32, can hardly be blamed for feeling as if he can conquer the world.

”It’s just staying as fresh as possible mentally and physically. We’ve got a little bit more time off this year,” he said. ”So it’s just having those times when I’m able to get back home and do the right things back home.

”One of the big things for me has been to be able to keep my gym work up, keep that strength going, just keep being around positive people and keep enjoying my cricket. Which is what I have been doing over this past year. It’s pretty simple really.”

That is exactly what Clarke has endeavoured to do in his management of Johnson against England, with spectacular results.

Reaching speeds of 155.8km/h in the Boxing Day Test and having used the short ball for devastating effect since the series began Johnson’s hold over the opposition can be traced back to a basic tactical instruction from Clarke: bowl fast.

”My role has been very clear,” Johnson said.

”In the past I’ve felt I’ve had to play different roles and sometimes that still happens where you have to back off a little bit and maybe tighten it up a little bit. In general my role has been to go out there, bowl fast, be aggressive, bowl in short spells. I’m very comfortable with that.” An SCG wicket with a healthy tinge of green awaits him on Friday and against a hungry quick with an eye on a whitewash that could be more bad news for England. ”There was a lot of talk about 5-0 the other way,” Johnson said. ”I’ve been involved in a lot of losses against England [so] we really want to make it 5-0.”

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