Johnson targets English vulnerabilities

Mitchell Johnson has hit back in the pre-Ashes war of words, but plans on striking far more meaningful blows against Stuart Broad next week.

Former England offspinner Graeme Swann and Broad recently critiqued Steve Smith’s promotion to first drop.

Broad opined that it’s advantageous to England.

“It’s quite funny that they’re talking about the No.1 player in the world,” Johnson said.

“They can talk all they like, but he’s put the runs on the board with a swinging ball … against some of the best attacks in the world.

“Whether they want to bring their best player up to No.3 – that’s their decision.”

Future England captain Joe Root batted at first drop in the recent ODI series against New Zealand but remained at No.5 during the preceding Tests.

Johnson will renew hostilities with Root and co. next Wednesday when the long-awaited series starts in Cardiff.

The left-armer lorded over England with 37 wickets in the 2013-14 series, including a sandshoe crusher that sent Broad to hospital with a suspected broken foot.

The bouncer was arguably Johnson’s most effective delivery then and the 33-year-old warned England’s bowlers to expect more of the same.

“You’ve got to target the vulnerabilities of their tail and they have struggled in recent times. They obviously didn’t like it on the fast pitches in Australia but it might be a little more difficult here,” he said.

“It’s something that’s worth a try, especially to guys like Broad who have struggled recently.

“He’s probably lost his ability a bit there.

“But you never know … when he’s going well he can strike the ball pretty well.”

Broad recently suggested he is over the worst of a batting form slump, which started when he suffered a broken nose during a Test against India in 2014.

“I get nightmares still and I wake up thinking I have been hit in the face by a ball,” he said earlier this year.

Johnson’s pace dipped as he struggled to come to terms with Phillip Hughes’ shock death, but it returned to express speeds in last week’s tour game against Kent.

“A couple of those balls were as fast as I’ve kept to him in a long time,” Brad Haddin revealed.

“To have his pace at the back end of that game on a pretty placid wicket like that was pretty exciting.”

Johnson noted namesake Mitchell Starc might be even faster at the moment.

“He can come and bowl just as fast, if not faster than me at times and swing the ball,” he said.

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