Adelaide Test – Day 3: I Put a Spell on You – Because You’re Mine

Old Mate Mitch.

Until scarcely a few months ago, he was viewed by the wearied Australian cricket fan as a supremely talented, mentally fragile and technically flawed tease.

His cricket metrics were akin to an action potential. It was either all or nothing with both bat and ball. Who was going to turn up? Would it be Good Mitch or Bad Mitch? Too often it would be Bad Mitch. Very few cricketers have displayed such a variation in performance. His output being seemingly wedded to complicated biorhythms.

Now, following successful ODI campaigns in the Old Dart and the Indian subcontinent, he is the King of Australian cricket. A left-arm fast bowling deity whose exploits on Saturday will be long remembered by those who witnessed it.

Historically in Adelaide, great fast-bowling performances have been Herculean marathon bowling stints in furnace-like conditions. Under a typical blue Adelaide sky and with a warm breeze at his back, Johnson’s spell was as savage and as devastating as anything produced by John Snow or Wasim Akram or even Thommo.

The country needs to bestow upon him a nickname like ‘Terror’ or ‘Demon’. For making Cook, Prior, Broad and Swann look utterly incompetent, he has earned the right to a nickname. Or maybe he should simply change his Christian name from Mitch to George.
How has this startling and unforseen transformation taken place?

In Mitch-land, it could partly be because he’s embraced the ‘intimidating’ Swamp-rock Creedence Clearwater Revival moustache. It seems that as he’s coming into the bowl, he’s humming CCR’s I Put a Spell on You.

Because, English batsman, you’re mine.

A touch fanciful perhaps. However there’s no doubting the fact that he has mentally perturbed this declining batting line-up. Sources close to the English side have confirmed to the Footy Almanac that the English batsmen are dead-set petrified.

He has lengthened his run up and now approaches the crease like Beamon approached the foul-line in ’68. His delivery motion consists of a perfect rock back and he releases the ball with a higher arm. It’s a wicked combination.

His first spell the night before was as frightening a spell since Dizzy Gillespie’s at Leeds in ’97. After his first over he had recorded the six fastest deliveries of the match to date. He was consistently clocked above 150 km/h. In this sport, differences of 5 km/h can have a huge effect on a batsman’s ability to play the ball. Johnson has found that rarefied zone where he is simply too rapid for the batsman. And his new-found accuracy has meant that he’s become hard to score off.

Cook was hurried and flustered. The ball that bowled him was one of the most exciting moments I’ve witnessed at a Test match. Cook never saw it. He wasn’t even through his shot by the time Johnson had run past him in a triumphant and theatrical follow-through. Cook trudged off with that Mayor of Hiroshima look on his face.

Just after lunch the following day, Johnson’s incendiary spell of six for not many began. The most memorable of the half-dozen was Broad losing his leg stump for a primary duck. It was about a ten minute first-knacker as Broad had complained about the sightscreen prior to facing a ball. This break in proceedings allowed Johnson to rest, prepare and hum. And it afforded the Adelaide crowd the opportunity to barrack as vociferously as if Jardine was facing up in his Harlequin cap.

Old Mate Anderson, who has turned it up in my opinion, was also bowled first ball by a thunderbolt. Prior nibbled at one to Haddin and seemed relieved to have been dismissed. So too was Swann who waved his bat like a white flag and slashed to Clarke at second slip.

Twice Johnson was on a hat trick at the commencement of a new over. Johnson running in to bowl his hat-trick balls had the same effect as standing near a Van de Graaf accelerator.

His ability to bowl at such a velocity that batsmen are scared, flustered and inadequate has turned this series into a no-contest. I don’t believe the English have the bottle to come back like the Americans in the recent America’s Cup. Australia could win this 5-0.

Big brown stains are readily and frequently appearing on England’s batting creams.

Bell was a notable and admirable exception.

His occupation of the crease was a masterclass in technical proficiency, shot-making, footwork and use of his hands to find gaps in the field.

This summer might become known as Johnson’s summer.

And Perth is yet to come.


  1. I believe it was Screamin Jay Hawkins who penned the ditty referred to. As for nicknames, surely he is and always will be “Johnno”. It echoes with “Thommo”.

  2. I reckon we go with “Zapata”:

    Beautifully done PJF. Great to have a correspondent in situ.

    Enjoy the last rites today if you’re still there.

  3. Grand images, pjf.
    I’m calling him “Crystal”.
    Hard, brittle, shatters easily, can cause others damage.
    And there’s already a New Order chant/ singalong option.

  4. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Great stuff ,PJF also to let almanac readers no , PJF was a little bit excited at the number of cats followers sitting in our proximity yesterday ! Brilliant article and while you are correct re a nickname I really like , Good Mitch as I reckon that reflects on his whole
    Career perfectly an it I annoying m trying to think of the other players surname ending in
    S ! Thanks Flynny

  5. David Downer says


    Van de (Shaun) Graaf accelerator indeed

  6. Peter Flynn says

    Cheers Gus.

    MOC, I was in situ today. A terrific chat followed at the Queen’s Head in North Adelaide. Robran, Mumford, Cloke, Marriott, and Cornes were all hot topics over a countery.

    Mountain Aish (I’m in Adelaide), you do know your Chemistry.

    Rulebook, those Geelong girls were fantastic.

    D Downer, Ian McLachlan was 12th man just like S Graf.



  7. Peter Flynn says

    Old Mate Vic Flowers has distanced himself from J Savile. A prudent move.

    I made this comment at the Test today. And the on-the-ball K Carroll then pointed out that R Harris is steaming in to bowl.

    Well played K Carroll.

    By the way, it’s either K Carroll or D Flint to become the next GG.

    My money is on Carroll.

  8. Sneak

    It’s been a while but, just like a Bruce Sprigsteen concert, worth the wait and never disappoints.

    Has the Johnson mo been monikered? I it a MoJo or a JoMO?

    Friday night/Sat morning (UK time) was a cracker! Mrs Corka got the fright of her life when I bounded up to bed at 4am in such a frisky mood. Being an English rose, she didn’t quite share my excitement.

    Interested to know what a new SACA member makes of the new look Oval. Have they killed it? They have certainly handed the mantle of most beautiful cricket ground to Newlands.

    See you in Melbourne after the 5th demolition.

  9. Peter Flynn says


    Old Mucker.

    I have mixed feelings about the Adelaide Oval.

    The Cathedral End still looks terrific.

    Out the back is terrific.

    They put too much cucumber in the Pimms though.

    On Sunday arvo, the learned ladies in front of us were calling Mitch ‘Dirty Sanchez’.

    If you don’t know why, please don’t look it up.

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