Shane Warne said that paceman Mitchell Johnson will shake up England’s batsmen with his searing speed in the Ashes series that starts next week.
The Australian leg-spin great ramped up the war of words ahead of the November 21 Ashes opener in Brisbane by saying that the enigmatic left-arm quick was now a more mature cricketer.
Johnson,32,was Tuesday named in Australia’s squad for the first Test and has vowed to ruffle England’s batsmen,particularly captain Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott,with short balls directed at the ribs or throat.
While he has been plagued by erratic line and length at Test level and was the target of a merciless campaign to unsettle him by England’s travelling support in 2010/2011,Warne said Johnson was now a changed bowler.
“He’s forced his way in through bowling some serious pace. He’s going to shake the English side up,” Warne said in Melbourne.
“He’s a bit older,a bit more mature and knows his role a bit better,knows his body better,knows how he bowls. His role’s going to be go out to just bowl quick,” he added.
Johnson,who made his Test debut in 2007,has taken 205 wickets in his 51 Tests at 30.93.
Warne also backed the selection of George Bailey,picked to make his Test debut at number six in the batting order.
Bailey is in the side thanks largely to his electric one-day form in India,but Warne said the 50-over format had regularly been a breeding ground for Test players.
“If a guy’s in form it’s pretty hard to resist,” Warne said. “He’s been consistent in making those runs and the way he’s been getting them.”
Warne added that it had been a good move naming the squad well before the Gabba Test.
“They all look happy,they’re all in form,so all the signs have been good for Australia,” he said.
“England were the better side in England in the last Ashes series. They deserve to be favourites for this series. But we’re on Australia’s turf. It’s time for our guys to put their hand up.”