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The one Ashes sledge I can recall: Johnson

Hero of the '13-14 Ashes reveals a dig from Stuart Broad remains an enduring memory, while he also has some advice for Jonny Bairstow

Mitchell Johnson both dealt out and was on the receiving end of his fair share of on-field barbs, but the former Test tearaway says Stuart Broad delivered the only Ashes sledge he can now recall.

A famously fiery character with ball in hand, Johnson's running battles with the likes of leading international batsmen Virat Kohli and Joe Root made for intriguing theatre during his Test career. 

But while the left-armer fondly remembers his battles with the world's best, his recollections of being sledged are limited to some carefully-chosen words from England fast bowler Broad.

"Stuart Broad had a dig at me once when I was batting at the non-striker’s end," Johnson wrote in a column for the The Telegraph

"'You’ve lost it mentally,' he said, 'you’re still the same'.

"He tried to put me off my game – and I did not mind that, in fact I like it about the game. As long as it is not personal.

"Virat Kohli used to bite back a bit, Joe Root would smile, but Broad’s comments are about all the sledging I can remember in Ashes cricket."

Johnson dismisses Broad at the WACA in 2013 // Getty
Johnson dismisses Broad at the WACA in 2013 // Getty

Before his astonishing 2013-14 campaign in Australia to help inflict a 5-0 whitewash over England, Johnson had been ruthlessly targeted by the Barmy Army in 2009.

The speedster has previously admitted their relentless heckling got to him as he tried to solve technical issues with his bowling action in the harsh spotlight of an Ashes campaign.

While an increased confidence in his remodelled action helped him scale heights few thought he would reach, Johnson puts his second coming as a Test cricketer largely down to an improved ability to manage his body language.

Johnson's 37 Ashes wickets, 2013-14

"In the first half (of my career), I used to drop my shoulders and that would tell the batsmen in the middle – and the ones waiting in the changing room – that something was wrong," Johnson wrote.

"In the second half of my career, I learned it was all about good body language. 

"I would puff my chest out, keep my head up, and if the batsman got any inside edge or something, I would let him know he was lucky."

'You’ve lost it mentally,' he said, 'you’re still the same' // Getty
'You’ve lost it mentally,' he said, 'you’re still the same' // Getty

Turning his attention to the current Magellan Ashes, Johnson insisted Jonny Bairstow needs to shut out Australia's sledging after the hosts taunted the wicketkeeper about a 'headbutt' incident involving debutant opener Cameron Bancroft during the first Test in Brisbane.

Captain Steve Smith admitted after the match Australia were "trying to get in his head and it happened to work" while Bancroft laughed off any suggestion of malice from Bairstow, in what the Englishman explained was an unusual, but well-intentioned, attempt at a friendly greeting. 

Bancroft explains what happened with Bairstow

"Bairstow has toured here before and must have known what to expect," Johnson continued. 

"It is too early to judge the effect on him of being at the centre of the Bancroft incident and we will have to wait and see in the Adelaide Test. 

"He is a strong character and he has got to find a way to block it out because it is a long tour."

2017-18 International Fixtures

Magellan Ashes Series

Australia Test squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine (wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Jackson Bird, Chadd Sayers.

England Test squad: Joe Root (c), James Anderson (vc), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Gary Ballance, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Mason Crane, Tom Curran, Ben Foakes, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ben Stokes, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Chris Woakes.

First Test Australia won by 10 wickets. Scorecard

Second Test Adelaide Oval, December 2-6 (Day-Night). Tickets

Third Test WACA Ground, December 14-18. Tickets

Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30. Tickets

Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test). Tickets

Gillette ODI Series v England

First ODI MCG, January 14. Tickets

Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Tickets

Third ODI SCG, January 21. Tickets

Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Tickets

Fifth ODI Perth Stadium, January 28. Tickets

Prime Minister's XI

PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Tickets

Gillette T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series

First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Tickets

Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Tickets

Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Tickets

Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 14

Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16

Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18

Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21