One of Australian cricket’s most elite clubs will welcome another member this week, with Mitchell Johnson set to bag his 300th Test wicket.
It’s testament to the way Johnson has resurrected a career that looked to be over when he suffered a severe toe injury in 2011 and fell out of love with the game.
Johnson, who sits on 299 Test victims as he prepares to tackle England in the third Ashes Test, remains Australia’s strike weapon.
“He’s bowling as well as I’ve seen throughout his career,” Michael Clarke said.
In addition to generating fear and eliciting rash strokes, the left-armer has transformed from shy tearaway into genuine leader.
Ryan Harris’ retirement makes Johnson the veteran among a youthful pace attack.
It’s a role the left-armer has grown into since being recalled for the 2013-14 Ashes series, which he dominated with 37 wickets.
Johnson, who will become the fifth Australian to break the 300-wicket mark, leads by example on the park and off it.
“I’ve been lucky enough to play with some really fit quicks – you think of Brett Lee, Andy Bichel, Glenn McGrath,” Clarke said.
“These guys worked exceptionally hard in the gym to stay healthy and Mitch is as fit, if not fitter, than those blokes put together.
“He trains really hard.
“Hence why he’s been able to play for such a long period of time, have consistent success and bowl at that pace over that period as well.”
Coach Darren Lehmann is also full of praise for the guidance and support that Johnson has delivered for teammates Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood.
“He’s got his mojo back and he’s exciting. He’s also really good with the young players and leads from the front in everything he does,” Lehmann told the Daily Mail.
England have done their best to talk down the threat of Johnson during the past week.
Moeen Ali opined that Johnson “bowled really well in one innings out of four” in the current series, while Stuart Broad suggested he isn’t bowling as well as 2013-14.
Joe Root pointed to Johnson’s match figures of 2-180 in the first Test as prove his side can negate Johnson’s unique mix of express pace, swing and bounce.
“It’s not that we can’t do it. We’ve proven that we can this series,” Root declared.
Clarke wasn’t interested in engaging in a war of words.
“I’m not keen to talk too much about it until the end of the series,” he said.
“Let’s see how things play out.”
AUSTRALIA’S 300-WICKET CLUB
Shane Warne – 708
Glenn McGrath – 563
Dennis Lillee – 355
Brett Lee – 310