THE history of the decline and fall of Mitchell Johnson is of Roman Empire proportions.
The tattooed and pierced Queenslander, in a time before all-arm tattoo sleeves were the standard wear of every barista and tradie, burst onto the scene in 2008 with his searing pace and swing bowling.
He was the star in a floundering Australian team which was trying to work out how to continue winning after decades of success.
After the 2009 South Africa tour he was considered the best fast bowler in the world and won the International Cricket Council’s Cricketer of the Year award.
I think you can pinpoint where it all went wrong with Johnno back to a fateful day in the British summer of 2009, when he took part in a particularly devastating Ashes match.
All the Aussies had to do to win the first test in Cardiff was bowl out batting bunny Monty Panesar.
This is a man who averages just a little bit over five runs in both test and One Day International competitions; a man who makes Glenn McGrath look like Sachin Tendulkar; a man whose batting skill is probably equivalent to mine, and I have to constantly rely on the “you can’t go out first ball” rule to get me through the Christmas Day post-lunch cricket match.
They couldn’t get Monty out. The series, Australia’s pride and Johnson’s career was doomed from there.
Johnson has become increasingly more frustrating to watch, taunted by Australian and opposition supporters alike.
His problem is a distinct lack of control, like a drunk uncle at a wedding when the Village People comes on.
No one watching has any idea where the ball is going to end up, reminiscent of Matthew Richardson kicking for goal 10 metres out, dead in front.Johnson is more than capable of a toe-crushing yorker, ripping out middle stump and decapitating some kneecaps in one swift movement.
But he’s more often found sending down wayward bowls that trickle down the pitch, landing two metres out to the left of a confused batsman.
Hence, it is alarming to hear that Johnson is actually a fair chance to play in the third and deciding test match against South Africa on Friday.
I truly thought after last year’s summer we would never see him again.
Although there is a part of me that is buoyed by this news. Maybe the Aussie selectors are going to start trawling through past bowlers to find a way to break through the South African batting line up.
In my opinion, it is always time for another resurrection of Brad Hogg. The most enthusiastic man in cricket is always up and about, tongue out, rocking his side-parted hair which looks modelled on a 1940s debut photo.
And while we’re on hair, what about a return of Colin “Funky” Miller, he of the ever-changing coloured follicles? He was 34 when he made his debut for the Australian Test Team. He’s 48 now – quite a young’n for the current Australian Test Team.
I, like many others, was also a big fan of Queenslander Andy Bichel and would love to see him back in the baggy green.
He played in an era where the Aussies had countless excellent fast bowlers but when given the chance, always excelled.
Damien Fleming, Jason Gillespie, Paul Reiffel, Stuart MacGill... there are a plethora of past players I’d prefer to see ripping up the Proteas top order over Johnson.
But if we’re going to be serious about this (which I clearly am), I think there’s one fast bowler I’d choose above all others – Mike Whitney.
He could definitely slot in as a cheeky medium-paced bowling choice, and maybe some lucky person in the crowd will snag $50 for tight-roping over the WACA.