Ponting to be tested over Johnson’s poor form

Monday, November 29, 2010

BRISBANE - Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting could face an intriguing test of loyalty when it comes to left-arm fast bowler Mitchell Johnson, who has been in poor form with the ball.

According to news.com.au, Johnson’s struggles with the ball have become so acute that he seems to have lost confidence. He is already sapped by match figures of 0-131 from 33 overs, he risks going wicketless for the first time in his 39-Test career.

Ponting is famed for his pick-and-stick mentality, standing by Andrew Symonds and Marcus North in the recent past.

Will he do the same with Johnson? That is the question upper most in the minds of Australian cricket connoisseurs and fans.

The past four days at the Gabba’s Vodafone Ashes Test have laid bare the demons lurking within Johnson.

He suddenly appears uneasy with his place in the Australian side.

He was off-colour with 0-66 in England’s first innings….

On Sunday, Johnson must have felt like crawling into a hole when, at mid-off, he dropped Andrew Strauss on 69, allowing the England skipper to power to his 19th Test ton.

But the more pressing problem is Johnson’s flagging confidence levels.

He bowled with venom in his first spell on Sunday, but when the breakthrough never came the left-armer looked fragile after lunch and incapable of providing the lethal wicket-taking deliveries that make him so feared on his day.

Ponting knows Johnson, shy and introverted by nature, lacks the fire of a Merv Hughes and the unshakeable confidence of Glenn McGrath.

He has invested in Johnson’s match-winning qualities, but on current form the national selectors could mount a genuine case to axe him for the next showdown in Adelaide.

Johnson’s figures in this Test spotlight the conundrum. From his past five Tests, the 29-year-old has taken just 11 wickets at a worrying 55.36. (ANI)

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