Johnson happy to take brunt of abuse

Five years ago, raucous English crowds crushed Mitchell Johnson’s confidence and Australia relinquished the Ashes.

Now Johnson regards the antagonists as a compliment, a responsibility even, as the tourists attempt to square the series 2-2 at Trent Bridge.

Johnson was jeered and booed every time he went near the Dukes during the third Ashes Test.

It wasn’t quite as nasty as 2009, when the Barmy Army sang songs about his family in addition to bowling to the left and bowling to the right.

But the crabby chants were sustained and well directed at a heaving Edgbaston, particularly on day three when England cruised to an eight-wicket win.

The express paceman wore it with a smile, baiting the home crowd by aborting his run-up and letting a delivery rip from alongside the umpire late in the piece.

“I get amongst it a bit more now,” Johnson said.

“When the whole crowd is cheering my name at the end of a game – when they’ve just won – you have to take that as a compliment … where I did stop in my run-up was deliberate to try and have a bit of fun with the crowd.

“It had a fair bit of appreciation when I went down to fine leg, with people clapping and saying a few choice words.”

Coach Darren Lehmann described it as “entertaining”, praising Johnson for soaking up the full attention of liquored-up locals.

The left-armer is more than happy to cop the lion’s share of abuse.

“I definitely feel like I can take the brunt of it and I take the focus away from the other guys and I’ve really embraced that role,” Johnson said.

“When you’re walking with your family in the street, I think it’s a bit overboard.

“But on the field, I think that’s fair game … I’m all for it.”

Johnson expects more of the same on Thursday, when the fourth Test starts in Nottingham.

The 33-year-old described the last-start loss as frustrating.

“We had an opportunity to make a big score on a wicket that was a bit similar to back home … and we could have done a lot better with the newer ball,” Johnson said.

As a result, England are on the cusp of winning a fourth consecutive home Ashes.

It’s something they haven’t achieved since Australia recorded their first away series win in 1899.

“It’s an Ashes series and we’ve got some guys that are probably feeling the pressure a little bit,” Johnson said.

“The guys have handled it really well – especially a loss like we had in the last Test.

“We were disappointed … but we were able to move on.

“Hopefully, we can come out here and win this Test match because, if we don’t, we are in big trouble.”

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