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Rediff.com  » Cricket » We're in a good position with our bowling attack: Johnson

We're in a good position with our bowling attack: Johnson

Last updated on: February 12, 2011 18:24 IST

Australia is still the team to beat

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Harish Kotian

It's rare that Australia enter a tournament and are not considered as one of the favourites. It is actually shocking -- because they have won the last three World Cups and recently thrashed England 6-1 in a seven-match ODI series.

However, Australia's indifferent form over the last season plus the lack of runs from their top batsmen and the lack of wickets from their strike bowlers has seen the champions struggle to make their mark.

Mitchell Johnson was one of their heroes against England with a good all-round showing to silence his critics after a lowly showing in the Ashes.

The 29-year-old forms an integral part of the Aussie bowling attack, who are relying on their pacers this time around to deliver the goods on the slow and low pitches in the sub-continent.

The left-arm pacer, who has taken 135 wickets in 89 ODIs, will also be looking to chip in with the bat to continue his recent big-hitting trend.

The Australian all-rounder says along with Brett Lee and Shaun Tait, they form one of the most lethal attacks in the tournament.

Senior Associate Editor Harish Kotian spoke with Johnson at an open media session in Bangalore on Saturday, where he spoke on the tactics Australia will employ during the World Cup and why they are still the team to beat.

Will you continue to bat up the order in World Cup?

I never know. I guess it comes down to the captain [Ricky Ponting] and the vice-captain [Michael Clarke] and what they think the situation of the game is. We have got plenty of good batsmen in our team but I am always putting my hand up to go up the order if needed. Bowling is always going to be my number one thing. I need to go out there and do a job for Australia, and that's bowling and getting wickets. But I do enjoy my batting at the same time.


Image: Mitchell Johnson

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Happy with the form

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Are you happy with your bowling form heading in the World Cup?

I'm pretty happy with the way my form is going at the moment. It's built up through the One-day series [against England] after I started off a little bit slow but then I felt like I am starting to reach a bit of form now. I have never felt too far away from being at my best but for me it just gets highlighted a lot more.

If I am having a bad performance I probably need to bring my performances closer together -- have that sort of middle ground. At the moment it is either really good or not as good. As for form in the One-dayers, I am feeling pretty good and looking forward to the tournament.


Image: Mitchell Johnson

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Pace will be the key

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Australia are relying on their pacer attack more this time. How will it be bowling with Brett Lee and Shaun Tait?

I think we work pretty well together. Obviously there was a lot of talk about us leaking too many runs. Brett Lee did an exceptional job through that One-day series as you saw. With that experience, I think it is going to help myself and Tait through this tournament. It probably showed towards the end of the one-day series. Personally, as to whether I bowl first change or second change -- I enjoy the fact that Lee and Tait get to run with that new ball and do their job.

Tait bowls very fast and likes to bowl that short ball. I think it could work over here so we are in a pretty good position with our bowling attack.

So the batsmen won't get any respite with you coming in to bowl first change. Isn't it?

That's sort of the plan, isn't it? We can all bowl at between 140 and 150. Tait and Lee can even bowl over that. No one really is too keen on facing anything like that. We would be one of the only teams going around like that. So it will be a bonus for us.

We have got an aggressive bowling attack and we will have to sit down and look at tomorrow with our practice game and see if it works. If not, go and look at what else we can do. But we're going to be smart about what we're going to do out there. Look at the last Test series here, I think we did a pretty good job with the bowling. We got pretty close in that Mohali game. We just have to be smart about our bowling but I think we're still going to be aggressive.


Image: Mitchell Johnson and Brett Lee

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'We have got some very good spinners'

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Since Australia don't have a top spinner in their line-up does it put extra pressure on the fast bowlers?

I wouldn't disregard our spinners. We have got some very good spinners. I don't think it's going to put any extra pressure on us. We always go out there and do our job.

We look at trying to get the ball to reverse, trying to use our change-ups. We're still going to try and bowl short balls over here. We know that especially a lot of the Indian batsmen aren't too keen on it.

We'll stick to our plans when we're out there. We're not going to put any extra pressure on ourselves. We've got good spinners in our side -- very good spinners actually, in these conditions.


Image: Jason Krejza

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'I don't let the Powerplays get to me too much'

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What do you think is the key to succeed in Powerplays?

It's just making sure you bowl to your plans. You've just got to back yourself. You've just got to try and bowl to your field. A lot of the batters nowadays, with twenty20 around, can really go after you. So it's just about mixing and not being predictable in those Powerplays but making sure you know what you want to bowl.

I don't let the Powerplays get to me too much. It's obviously a restriction - you have three men out. But we stick to our plans -- we know where each batter likes to score and we've just got to make sure we back ourselves with our bowling and be confident with it.


Image: Mitchell Johnson

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