England can afford to smile with satisfaction after their top three batsmen scored centuries to earn a respectable draw in Brisbane. But Australia will have plenty on their plates to think about.
While the word “momentum” is as commonly abused as “great” the momentum is with England, though in a five-Test match series, one atrocious session is good enough for Australia to claw their way back in contention for the Ashes.
The enormous score line of 517/1 will continue to cause more anguish and frustration on the bowling front for Ricky Ponting as the Aussie think tank ponders the bowling group to account for 20 English wickets .
Mitchell Johnson is under scrutiny with his sterile form with the ball, more pronounced in the Brisbane Test spraying the ball to both sides of the wicket. He returned with figures of no wickets for 170 runs from a match spell, the first time in his 39-Test career without a wicket and the confidence was further smashed when he grassed an important catch off Andrew Strauss.
While Johnson’s dismal performance at the Gabba was made the focal reason for the Aussie display, the strip produced at Gabba should get a fair share of criticism for its inability to aid bowlers.
By dropping Mitchell Johnson Australia will blink in desperation to cover the lost ground. They are under enormous pressure to deliver result under home conditions. On the contrary, if Mitchell Johnson fails to snare wickets , Ricky Ponting will be asked uncomfortable questions about persisting with Johnson who is the captain’s “go to man” for picking wickets.
Mitchell Johnson, the ICC player of the year 2009, would find it extremely difficult to relax as Ryan Harris and Doug Bollinger have been added to the thirteen man squad for the second test.
The chorus to replace Johnson is getting louder with passing time .On the back of torrid time in England last time and now with three scalps to show, Johnson is clearly on the brink of getting axed.
Two men are in the reckoning for their name on the team sheet - Ryan Harris and Doug Bollinger. Harris, on the back of a six-wicket haul for Queensland in this week's drawn game against Victoria in Melbourne is raring to go and will eye the spot on the basis of his proven strike power and pace after this knee surgery in July this year.
The other candidate, Doug Bollinger, will rue being left out in the first Test, his track record as the best-performing Australian bowler with 47 Test scalps at an outstanding average of 22 is hard to ignore.
The last Test match hosted by the Adelaide Oval petered out into a draw with Chris Gayle hitting an undefeated 165 to become the only West Indian skipper to carry his bat in a Test innings. Things may not be different though from a batsman’s standpoint this time
With the sun not shining brightly at the Adelaide Oval and predictions of thunder showers, the selectors will hold the cards close to their heart and decide the fate of Mitchell Johnson on the very morning.
Whether the selectors will repose faith in Mitchell Johnson by having him in the playing eleven to bowl into form or encourage him to take some time off to correct his flaws will be revealed soon enough.
© Cricket World 2010