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"Johnson had the scent of blood in his steaming nostrils"

England had already been battered and bruised by Mitchell Johnson in the first Test at Brisbane and the rapid Australian wasn’t done there. The Aussie quick had the scent of blood in his steaming nostrils and his thirst for wickets was far from sated.

In his autobiography Kevin Pietersen spoke of the fear-inducing impact Johnson’s bowling had on the England dressing room. 

“Boom the first ball from Johnson hits Trotty on the glove as he jumps back and tries to shield his face … a shudder ran through the dressing room … Lunch, no thanks. I was sitting there thinking: I could die here in the fucking Gabbatoir”.

England had ten days to recover from that roughing up at the Gabba, but Johnson - who was so ridiculed and looked like a lost soul in previous years - was not about to remove the sole of his boot from England’s throats.

Johnson ripped through England finishing with 7 for 40

He opened up by scything through Alastair Cook’s defences with full bolt of lightening that rocked back the opener’s off peg with raw pace.

Ben Stokes – playing in his first series – was next to go, struck full on pads and overturned on review after Marais Erasmus had signalled runs off the bat. There was no bat, Stokes gone for one in his first knock. Welcome to Test cricket.

By this stage moustachioed Mitch was fully revved up, steaming in, roared on by a cacophonous Adelaide faithful, snarling, slaver spewing from his chops, that broom-handle bristle across the top lip making him look like a rabid caricature of himself.

Matt Prior was on the receiving end of a head-seeking missile before nicking to slip for nought.

The ever-popular Stuart Broad was bowled round his legs to the delight of the crowd. Johnson was on a hat-trick.

"How about it!?"

Graeme Swann survived, chipping the hat-trick ball into a vacant leg side but wouldn’t hold back the storm for long. A big wafty drive, throwing his arms at a wide one, a shot that screamed acceptance of the fact Johnson was going to get him out. Go down blazing and all that. The Aussie skipper, Michael Clarke, with fine catch in the slip cordon. Johnson was on the Adelaide Oval honours board.

Jimmy Anderson went first ball and may as well not have been there such was the protection he offered his middle stump. Mitch locking blood-crazed eyes on his wounded prey as it dragged itself from the field. Johnson was on a hat-trick. Again.

Bell survived, prodding towards mid-off and falling just short of Chris Rogers.

Monty was about as much use as a leaf defending his off stump and Johnson had seven.

Johnson v Jimmy

England had been pulverised, ground into dust, reduced to mere husks of their former selves.

The Johnson of old – bowling ‘wide filth’ and finding himself as the Barmy Army’s chief whipping boy – was nothing more than a historical shadow. This was a regenerated cyborg of a cricketer with adrenalin coursing and crackling through his circuit board. 

Johnson would go on to take 37 wickets in the series against a storm-tossed England. If you know anyone that doesn’t watch cricket, doesn’t appreciate it as a contest (it is very likely you do) or think it is boring, played by a rabble of unathletic stiffs. Show them this passage of bowling by Mitchell Johnson. 

It is as beautiful in its artistry as it was terrifying in its aggression. All the more absorbing that it marked the sporting redemption of a man reborn from the harrowing embers of a previous life. 

Words by Owen Riley | @Owen__Riley