We need to fight - Mitchell Johnson
Australian pacer Mitchell Johnson feels that his side's lower order needs to battle it out after the visitors ended the second day of the third Ashes Test in a difficult position at Edgbaston.
At stumps on the second day, Australia were 168 for seven - leading by a mere 23 runs with three wickets in hand, but Johnson is hoping for a turnaround as he urged his team’s batsmen to hang in there.
Johnson, who went past 300 Test wickets on Friday, hopes that the remaining batsmen manage to swell Australia’s lead so that their bowlers can have something to bowl at.
"It's not ideal, not something we're happy about, but we need to get out there and fight in the morning,” said Johnson to Sky Sports at the end of the day’s play.
"We're 23 runs ahead and we need a big partnership.
“We need Mitchell Starc and Peter Nevill to put on a 100 partnership and get the ball rolling.”
The 33-year-old admitted that Australia’s batsmen were well below par on Thursday for the second time in the match as they gifted their wickets with some injudicious strokes.
With James Anderson leaving the field late in the day with a side strain, Johnson hopes Australia can capitalize on the situation to add some handy runs to the lead.
“England might be one bowler down as well, but we've got to stop this rot. It's not looking good at the moment, but we've got to keep confident.
"We played some shots we didn't need to.
“The guys will be disappointed and want to rectify that, but at the moment we need this tail to wag.”
David Warner’s explosive 77 was the lone spark in another embarrassing batting display by the visitors as they looked in real danger of facing an innings defeat at one stage.
However, a gritty unbeaten knock by Nevill and his partnership with Johnson ensured that England will have to bat again.
While getting to a sizable lead looks well out of reach at the moment, Johnson hopes that Australia can muster at least another 100 runs which he feels can make the match a riveting contest.
However, even if Australia do manage a decent lead, their bowlers will have to put up a far better performance after being extremely wayward in the first innings on a helpful surface.
"At one stage it looked like we'd get bowled out without making them bat a second time.
“If we get 120-30 we've got to have a really hard crack.
“There's still enough in the wicket, especially with the new ball.
“We'll have to come out and try to bowl our best."
Johnson expressed his happiness at entering the 300-wicket club on Friday which made him the fifth Australian to achieve the feat.
While soaking in the moment of glory, Johnson didn’t forget to appreciate the help given by pace legend Dennis Lillee in moulding his career.
"I'm very proud. You always want to win a Test, but when you get these kinds of accolades it's very special.
"To be up there with some of the Australian greats is something I'll be able to sit back and reflect on when I'm finished.
“Dennis has been a huge help throughout my career.
“He's a great mentor and a great man."
Before achieving this feat, Johnson had also gone past the milestone of 2,000 Test runs in Australia’s first innings on Wednesday.
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