Johnson return unsettles England

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Published: Sunday 1st February 2015 by The News Editor

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Australia sealed a crushing Tri-Series final victory over England, who were spooked by a destructive return from Mitchell Johnson.

The left-arm paceman bullied England in last winter’s Ashes and dished out some familiar punishment on his first appearance of 2015, as the hosts eased to a 112-run win.

Johnson has been wrapped in cotton wool this year but was eager to leave his mark before these sides meet in the World Cup on February 14.

He may not have reached the blood-curdling speed of his best days but by taking three wickets in 10 balls – Moeen Ali and captain Eoin Morgan with successive deliveries – he sapped the life from England’s chase.

Australia were already favourites at the interval, having gone from 60 for four to an above-par 278 for eight, but dismissing England for 166, with 65 balls to spare, was a decisive statement.

Australia’s revival was built around a career-best 95 from Glenn Maxwell, Mitch Marsh’s battling 60 and James Faulkner’s boundary-strewn 50 not out at the close.

And all three batsmen left their mark on Chris Woakes, who bowled 10 wicketless overs for 89 before rounding out a miserable day with a golden duck.

Australia kept Johnson away from the new ball, instead preferring Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood.

Ian Bell initially looked glad of the reprieve, driving Starc for consecutive fours in the first over.

But he did not score another run, Brad Haddin taking a smart low catch once Hazlewood located the edge.

The stage was then set for Johnson, who had an over of sighters before tearing out three wickets in 10 balls.

Taylor was the first, squeezing a drive behind square where Maxwell held a low chance.

Replays suggested it may have been a no-ball but the dismissal was upheld by TV umpire John Ward.

That might have been a significant talking point had Johnson moved the story on quickly with his next visit.

The ball that accounted for Moeen was a brute, with the opener using his bat for protection as he sent a dolly to slip.

Morgan was more culpable in his own downfall, offering no stroke to a fast, full delivery that clattered off stump.

Johnson sprinted towards the slips, legs pumping and arms outstretched. It is a sight England have seen all too often in recent times.

The momentum had shifted, decisively and permanently.

Joe Root scraped together 25 before Faulkner yorked him with his first delivery, though the Australian’s day ended on a sour note as he left the field with a side strain.

Stuart Broad did manage an upper-cut six off Johnson’s second spell, but not before backing away nervously moments earlier.

Maxwell was the unlikely beneficiary of England’s predicament, picking up four for 46 with his gentle brand of off-spin.

Jos Buttler, Woakes, Broad and Ravi Bopara all donated their wickets to Maxwell, before Hazlewood bowled Steven Finn to end it.

But there is no doubt that Johnson’s seven overs, and figures of three for 27, were the star attraction.

England started the day confidently, James Anderson justifying the decision to bowl first with a classy opening spell.

In his six-over burst he conceded a miserly 11 runs and took out Australia’s big-hitting openers Aaron Finch and David Warner.

Finch may have nicked the first ball of the game, but neither Anderson nor Buttler heard a sound.

There was no doubt two balls later, as Finch threaded a textbook outswinger straight to slip.

Warner was close behind, surprised by a touch of extra bounce as he picked out Taylor at backward point.

That brought together Steve Smith and George Bailey, two men in wildly different form.

Bailey’s stay was an unhappy one, taking 16 balls to get off the mark then fending the 17th straight to short-leg, while Smith made 40 serene runs before Moeen had him stumped.

Buttler fumbled the chance but flicked the bails at the second attempt.

Australia were in desperate need of some middle-order steel and Maxwell and Marsh provided just that, standing firm for 23.2 overs and adding 141 at just over a run a ball.

Maxwell impressed with his quiet authority and already had 50 before the powerplay persuaded him to open his shoulders.

He pocketed seven boundaries in that five-over stint, four coming from successive Woakes deliveries as the Englishman crumpled.

He looked on course for a first ton but fell five short, top-edging Broad.

When Marsh bowed out for 60, run out by Buttler, Australia’s innings appeared to be running out of steam.

But Faulkner had other ideas, laying into a tiring attack with four fours and as many sixes.

Woakes saw the penultimate over disappear for 24 and flogged Finn over long-on to reach his half-century with the final delivery.

Published: Sunday 1st February 2015 by The News Editor

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