Chennai: Mitchell Johnson was out for seven months due to a toe fracture and now attributes his successful comeback into the international arena to none other than the legendary Dennis Lillee, who has worked with him once he was done with his rehabilitation.
"Obviously, it's been an amazing experience working with Lillee. I had fair bit of time out of the game seven months out of the game- and was able to work with him again at the MRF Pace academy as well as back home in our conditions," the 31-year-old left-arm quick said at the Open media session on Tuesday. "Lillee knows my game really well. I trust him very much.
He has been around for me throughout my whole career. It's always nice to hear good things from him. Also nice to go out there and perform and put in what he has asked me to do," he said. The two Mitchells --- Johnson and Starc are left-arm pacers albeit with a difference. "I can't tell him (Starc) where to bowl," he quipped when someone asked whether they share notes between them. "I always said that variations work. You need change the pace. But you obviously have a challenge thrown at you. It depends on the condition and the bounce on the wicket.
Short-ball is a useful thing in these conditions. The ball doesn't swing and we rely on reverse swing and those are things we have spoken about." "It's a four Test series so we would be sharing more things. And the length also varies a lot. Back home, we bowl a bit fuller. We have to access the conditions. Myself or Siddle would be standing in at mid-off and mid-on to help these guys regarding the length."
"Learning from experience is the key. Even though I had McGrath and Lee, I learnt on my own. You need to learn from experience. They have had some good time in the practice games so they would have learnt a thing or so." Johnson is aiming to bring the ball back into the right-handers and has been working on that aspect.
"Things have changed. I want to bring the ball back into the righthanders. I have been working on it with Dennis. And short-ball is something you should bowl in all conditions. You get the ball to bounce knee high, then you are going get hit all over the park. So short ball definitely helps." As a fast bowler, Johnson wants to follow the philosophy of Glenn McGrath to the 'T'.
"As a fast bowler, I like to keep things simple. I don't like to overcomplicate. Cricket is a simple game. McGrath used to tell us to keep it simple around the off-stump and bowl the occasional bouncer. So that's how I look at it. And have the little bit of aggression being the fast bowler. Injury is the best thing that has happened to me as I matured a lot during the phase working with Dennis."
Critics have termed his injury prone but the fast bowler begs to differ. "I am not injury prone. It's just like every other bowler. It's due to the amount of cricket, we play these days. Every young fast bowler like Hazlewood have seen it. We are always playing ODIs, Tests and T20s and its non-stop."
Asked about how he helps youngsters, he answered,"I don't think it has changed. I always like to lead by example. The way I train, haven't changed anything. Of course, the responsibility has grown and I try to help the guys as much I can and that's how the Australian team is."
"We want to be the No 1 team in all formats of the game. We would like to help each other and leading from the front. Training hard and I spoke to Nathan Lyon, he is a spin bowler, and he wanted have chat, just about the mental side of things. "I guess the experience I shared with him really helped him. That's what is helping each other is about. That's what McGrath and those guys did for me and it's my turn to do those things."