With one searing spell, Australian spearhead Mitchell Johnson has ripped open old wounds and exhumed his Lord’s demons.
It didn’t take Johnson long to remove his unhappy memories at the home of cricket, with a seven-ball burst bouncing out England’s top dog, Joe Root, and No.3 Ian Bell while causing flashbacks of his hostile Ashes attacks of 18 months ago.
“That’d be nice to have those scars come back out,” Johnson (2-16) said after helping reduce England to 4-85 by stumps on day two, still 282 runs shy of making Australia bat again in the second Ashes Test.
The left-arm tearaway’s Lord’s horrors stem from his woeful showing in 2009 when he infamously lost his radar and was mercilessly hounded by the home crowd as Australia lost their first Test at the ground since 1934.
Then he took three wickets for 200 runs, and was at the helm as England marched to an opening stand of 196.
“It probably wasn’t my best performance, but I’ve grown a lot since then and I’ve bowled on a lot of different wickets that haven’t suited my bowling,” Johnson said.
On Friday afternoon, under overcast skies but on a wicket that had been derided as lifeless, Johnson roared into action.
Johnson, who took a stunning 37 wickets in the Ashes whitewash, was below his best in Cardiff last week, finishing with figures of 0/111 and 2/69.
But it took former England captain Michael Vaughan just two words to describe Johnson’s initial four-over spell: “He’s back.”
The explosive pace. The fearsome rearing deliveries. The hopping batsmen taking evasive action.
It all happened in the space of seven deliveries as he claimed two wickets and England slumped from 1-28 to 4-30.
The hallmarks of his hostile 2013-14 summer had returned.
“This is outstanding quick bowling,” the 2005 Ashes-winning skipper said of Johnson.
“You can see there’s panic in the England dressing room.
“The way he’s running in … This is the old Johnson, from Australia when he fizzed them down.
Johnson added of Root, whose first innings century in Cardiff set up a big English win: “It was definitely a plan to go hard at Root because we felt like we gave him too many chances in the first Test and let him get away from us.”
After his scorching yorker crashed into the base of off stump to remove Gary Ballance (23), the Australian players could be heard laughing over the stump effects microphone.
Following his dismissal of Root, the only noise to be heard at Lord’s was the concerned hum of a capacity crowd.