For someone who has experienced the dizziest of heights and endured the bleakest of lows in a topsy-turvy career,Mitchell Johnsons ability to torture England for a second straight Ashes test propelled the paceman to a higher plain on Saturday.
Man-of-the-match in the opening win in Brisbane with nine wickets and a half-century,Johnson completed a stunning seven-wicket haul at the Adelaide Oval on day three to rout Englands batsmen for 172 in their first innings and put Australia within reach of an improbable 2-0 lead in the five-test series.
The withering spell of pace bowling started late on Friday,bowling England captain Alastair Cook for three and ended just before tea on Saturday when he bowled Monty Panesar for two to enter Australias top 10 test wicket-takers.
In between,Johnson re-arranged the stumps of Stuart Broad and James Anderson for ducks,had Matt Prior and Graeme Swann caught behind and Ben Stokes dismissed cheaply leg before wicket. Three of the wickets fell in a single over after lunch without a run scored and two hat-tricks went begging on a glorious day for the home side at Adelaide Oval.
Away from the bouncy Gabba wicket,some had expected Johnson to struggle in Adelaide,mindful of the bowlers history of following up wrecking ball performances with almost comical efforts of waywardness in subsequent matches.
But Johnson on Saturday gave a glimpse of a tantalising future where adjectives like wayward and enigmatic would have no place ahead of his name.
To be able to back up a performance like in Brisbane and to do it here its a really nice feeling for me, Johnson told reporters,stroking the moustache he grew for charity.
I guess theres been talk in the past where I can have those performances where I can blow a team away and in the next one not turn up,so for me I think thats why it was a bit more emotional and special. It was because I was able to stick to my plans and go through with it.
The ball came out of my hand exactly the way I wanted it to. There was a bit of talk of me not hitting the stumps at Brisbane. But I was excited about the variable bounce,the reverse swing that Adelaide provides. It was really nice today,really nice feeling. Backed up again by all the bowlers.
The 7-40 haul was the best bowling in an Ashes innings at Adelaide Oval in over 100 years and there were few derisive songs belted out by the Barmy Army,who have give the 32-year-old a hard time for his struggles with line and length in previous series.
Johnson did not feel compelled to gloat,however. He has had some terse exchanges on the field with chirpy paceman Anderson in the past,but resisted the urge to give him a send-off after bowling him through the gate for a first-ball duck. I thought about it. I didnt need to,no. I think theres obviously a fair bit of stuff thats gone in the past, Johnson said of their relationship.
Jimmy likes to give it. I like to give it. But I thought at the time it wasnt needed. When the balls reversing like that its really exciting to bowl to left-handers to get through the gate like that. When you bowl a ball like that I think it would have been tough for a top-order batsman.
Johnson was not too diplomatic to give Kevin Pietersen some batting advice after the South Africa-born batsman holed out for four,slapping a shot to short mid-wicket where Australia captain Michael Clarke had set a trap.
We do know that he was practising it in the nets again this morning,so we do know he wants to play that shot.
On wickets like this,its probably not on. It was a plan. Definitely … We know that he doesnt like to be tied down so we had the field set exactly how we wanted it and the plan came off.
Brief scores: Australia 570 & 132/3 (D Warner 83*,S Smith 23*; J Anderson 2/19) versus England 172 all out (I Bell 72*,M Carberry 60; M Johnson 7/40)