Mitchell Johnson rubber-stamped his membership to Australia’s exalted 300 club in brutal fashion with a ball for the ages to dismiss Jonny Bairstow at Edgbaston.
Johnson became the fifth Australian to pass the 300-wicket milestone with the third ball of his opening over, producing a snorting, short-pitched delivery that a leaping Bairstow could only fend to Peter Nevill behind the stumps.
The pair combined again two balls later when Ben Stokes became Johnson’s 301st victim with another venomous effort that cannoned off the batsman’s gloves to give the tourists the perfect start after the first day dominated by the hosts.
With the dismissal of Bairstow, Johnson emulated the achievements of Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Dennis Lillee and Brett Lee and now needs 10 more victims to surpass Lee on the 300-plus-wickets list.
Former Australia wicketkeeper Ian Healy hailed the way in which Johnson etched his name in the record books as England’s middle order crumbled with three wickets falling in the first hour after Mitchell Starc took the crucial wicket of Joe Root for 63.
“He could not have got a better 300th wicket,” Healy said on the Nine Network.
Johnson’s milestone was clocked up in his 69th Test – in quicker time than Lee, who recorded the feat in his 73rd appearance, but behind Lillee (56), Warne (63) and McGrath (64).
The three runs Johnson scored in Australia’s first innings saw him become only the second Australian after Warne to score 2000 Test runs and take 300 wickets.