Adelaide: Paceman Mitchell Johnson is “inside” the heads of the petrified England batsmen and reviving memories of the terrifying Lillee and Thomson era, Australian newspapers said on Sunday.
The moustachioed left-arm speedster has been a constant threat for the tourists, who are almost certain to go 2-0 down in the five-Test series, with one pundit predicting the Ashes could be decided in a total of just 11 days.
Johnson followed his man-of-the-match performance in the 381-run first Gabba Test win with a destructive seven for 40 that left England on the ropes in Adelaide.
“Single and left-handedly, Mitch Johnson has turned this Ashes series upside down and inside out,” Fairfax Media’s Greg Baum said.
“He terrorised England as Shane Warne, for all his mastery, never did, and in an atmosphere of bloodlust reminiscent of the (1970s) heyday of Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson.”
The Australian’s Peter Lalor said Johnson was “inside the visitors’ heads”.
“His searing pace has rattled a top order that is scarred from Brisbane and trying not to think of what lies waiting in Perth,” he wrote.
“Being in the Adelaide moment is just too hard for a team that has an enormous job ahead to remain in this game and this series.”
Gideon Haigh, writing in the same newspaper, observed: “Johnson is providing Australia cricket with its most thrilling theatre since Warne himself, as a bowler who, when he is not bowling, you are somehow waiting for him to bowl.
“On an Adelaide Oval pitch as flat as the Nullarbor Plain, his reverse swing and straight-ahead speed dissolved England’s middle and lower order like a wave washing over a sandcastle.”
The Sunday Telegraph’s Malcolm Conn also likened Johnson’s performance to that of Lillee and Thomson, saying he had “petrified” the English batsmen.
“Nothing generates electricity in cricket like a frightening fast bowler. The roar of another near-capacity crowd at Adelaide Oval as Mitchell Johnson demolished England again revived the halcyon days of the 1970s,” he said.
“With that brooding moustache Johnson could have been a mirror image of Dennis Lillee with the crescendo of 35,000 fans propelling Australia’s latest hero of destruction to the wicket.
“This was raw and brutal stuff as batsmen dodged and weaved, sometimes more concerned about the preservation of their personal safety than their wicket.”
News Limited’s Robert Craddock mused: “Will this be another 11-day Ashes series?
“When Australia wrapped up the 2002-03 Ashes series in just 11 playing days historians decreed it a record for the swiftest Ashes hatchet job in a five-Test series and many observers felt we would never see anything like it again.
“If Australia wrap up the second Test on Sunday then complete a three-day victory in always-spicy Perth the unrepeatable series will be repeated and the 11-day record will be matched.”