Australian pace ace Mitchell Johnson will attempt to turn England captain Andrew Strauss into his bunny during the Ashes in a plan to crush the old enemy’s spirit.
Johnson, who will return to grade ranks this weekend in a bid to recapture his golden touch ahead of the Ashes, believed England would crumble if Strauss failed at the top of the order.
“Look, I think if we can go after their captain, Strauss, I think if you can get him early at the top order, hopefully (that will) put a lot of pressure on their lower-middle order,” Johnson said on Thursday.
“Being the captain, I think they’ve really looked up to him in the last 18 months, especially after beating us at their home.
“If we can put a lot of pressure on him then hopefully they can crumble a little bit.”
Strauss was dismissed for just four on Thursday in the tour match against South Australia, but showed his class last week with an unbeaten 120 against Western Australia.
Johnson also piled the pressure on England opener Alastair Cook, who has scored just 226 runs in his past 10 Test innings and was out for a scratchy 32 off 91 balls against the Redbacks.
“I guess we saw that the last Ashes – he was probably a bit of a weak link for them,” Johnson said.
“… There will definitely be a lot of pressure on him that’s for sure.”
The pressure for spots in Australia’s pace attack is also heating up after Queensland quick Ryan Harris boosted his chances of an Ashes call-up with 5-72 off 23 overs in the Shield match against Tasmania at Bellerive Oval.
Australia are likely to go in with three pacemen and a spinner for the first Test against England at the Gabba, leaving Johnson, Doug Bollinger, Peter Siddle, Harris and Ben Hilfenhaus fighting it out for spots.
Johnson is considered a certainty despite his recent struggle for form, which saw him claim just one wicket at a cost of 128 runs over the three one-dayers against Sri Lanka.
The 29-year-old will play first grade cricket for WA side Wanneroo on Saturday before linking back up with the Warriors for their Sheffield Shield clash with Victoria at the MCG, starting next Wednesday.
“I’m not getting the results I would probably like in the wicket column,” Johnson said.
“I don’t feel like I’m out of form, I just feel a little bit off the mark.
“The last time I played grade cricket, I was in Brisbane maybe four years ago.
“(I’m) looking forward to this weekend. Get a bit more bowling in before a big Ashes series.”