A tale of two Mitchells

Last Updated: Sun, Dec 30, 2012 03:21 hrs

Australia is doing to Sri Lanka what it did to other subcontinent teams that have toured down under in the last few years. They are annihilating them and thereby showing how much these countries need to look at the pitches and the quality of cricket that they have in their countries.

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Even when the Australians were devastated by the loss of players who went across to world series cricket or on rebel tours to South Africa and were thus banned from playing for Australia, they found players who would pull on the baggy green with pride and determination and give the opposition a tough time.

The only team that would beat the Aussies consistently was the West Indies in the late 70s and 80s and till the early 90s, but even they won after a hard time on the field.

In recent times England have given them a run for their money and South Africa have put it past them on two consecutive tours there, but all those wins have been hard fought ones. Now under Michael Clarke, the Aussies are regrouping and looking to dominate as they did for a decade and half from the mid 90s.

They have recently lost Ricky Ponting, who retired from the game before he was pushed but the kind of form that skipper Clarke is in ensures that Ponting is not being missed. It's early days of course and against sterner opposition, Ponting’s class and experience may well be missed, but the Australians are not too stretched as far as batting is concerned.

It is in the fast bowling department that they are struggling what with breakdowns of their young quick bowling hopes. That has prompted a rotation policy whereby even the match winner of the previous Test, Mitchell Starc, has been rested despite a week long break between the two Tests.

That allowed another Mitchell to come back to the Australian team of which he was an integral part not so long ago. Johnson grasped the chance with both bat and ball and has just delivered a man of the match performance that demolished Sri Lanka in two and half days and also left them minus two wicketkeeper batsmen, who broke their hands to his lifting deliveries.

With that effort, Mitchell Johnson shares the CEAT International Cricketer of the Week accolade with his prolific skipper, Michael Clarke.

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