It’s become one of the most familiar sights of this Ashes campaign – Mitchell Johnson relentlessly steaming in to the crease in a bid to snatch yet another match-turning wicket.
And while Michael Clarke has been judicious in choosing when, and for how long, to inject Johnson into the attack, GPS data reveals the fast bowler is covering more ground than a half-marathon during a day and reaching speeds of more than 33 kilometres per hour.
Channel Nine cricket high performance analyst Jock Campbell has collated data from a GPS unit worn by Johnson on day one of the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.
“The MCG is probably the biggest ground they play on in Australia so there’s a lot more distance they cover during the day,” said Campbell. “The fast bowlers always travel the farthest and Mitch did 23 kilometres on the first day.”
The personal GPS system measures speed, distances travelled and the heart rates of players. It also measures the number of sprint efforts made through the day.
On Boxing Day, Johnson’s 23 kilometres travelled included 144 sprints..
“People say that’s it’s stop-start and he walks part of it and that’s great, but go and walk for 23 kilometres and tell me how tired you are at the end of it and try to bowl fast in the middle of it,” said Campbell.
“It’s further than a half-marathon and he’s got to back up the next day and bowl fast again and try to get wickets.
“It just shows the endurance and athleticism of these fast bowlers, particularly the Australians. They tend to do more off-the-ball running – backing up throws and support play of the fieldsmen when they’re chasing balls.”
It was while chasing a ball through the outfield that Johnson reached his top speed of 33.1kph, the fastest pace Campbell has recorded this season.
“In previous years Mike Hussey’s done 35kph, Peter Siddle’s got up to 35.9kph and Brett Lee’s been the fastest one we’ve recorded so far, just over 36kph, and that’s faster than most rugby league wingers , fast guys in the AFL, or fast wingers in rugby union that get recorded,” said Campbell.
“What it demonstrates is that cricketers in the field chase over long distances, 50, 60, even 80 metres, so they’ve got to be conditioned to do that.”