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Mitch Johnson

Mitch Johnson picks his top six

Aussie Ashes hero pinpoints his highlights

Mitchell Johnson was an undisputed hero of Australia's resurgent Test summer in which they regained the Ashes and defeated the world's number-one ranked team, South Africa, on their own turf. 

Now recovered from the infection that sidelined him from the World T20 tournament in Bangladesh and prior to heading off for his stint in the Indian Premier League, Johnson returned to the WACA Ground in Perth – where the Ashes officially changed hands last December – and spoke to cricket.com.au about his six personal highlights from a golden Test summer:

1. Kevin Pietersen caught in the trap, second innings of first Ashes Test in Brisbane

Mitch's thoughts: People talk about plans to various batsmen, and often they don't change a lot. The plan for Pietersen was pretty much similar to when I first bowled at him in the (2006) Champions Trophy in India (when he was dismissed second ball he faced from Johnson).

I like to get them into his ribs and then get one up there. It’s pretty simple from a fast bowling perspective, and I like to keep it simple.

You have plan A and Plan B, and the success we had this summer came more from the fact that we executed them well. Sometimes you can bowl those couple of short ones to a player like Pietersen and he might get you away a few times for runs, so then you stop doing it.

So we thought this time we would stick to our plans for a bit longer, just keep going and going and keep pushing and that’s what we did. We knew not to back off and you could see from the results that the execution was spot on.

2. Devastating spell that yielded him 5-12 in England's first innings of second Ashes Test in Adelaide

Mitch's thoughts: This rates up there as another personal achievement mainly because it showed that I was able to back up from the success we had in Brisbane.

A lot of the talk after the first Test focused on the fact it was done on a wicket that suited fast bowlers and things would be different when we got to Adelaide on a flat pitch. So to be able to play like that in those conditions was pretty special. 

And on top of that it was my mate's birthday. He had come over from Perth to be there and watch, so that was a really good day.

3. Ryan Harris's first ball of England's second innings of the third Ashes Test in Perth that knocked over England captain Alastair Cook, and which Johnson claims he foresaw

Mitch's thoughts: There were quite a few good balls that our boys produced over the summer, but Ryan Harris's ball here (at the WACA) was unbelievable.

I actually had in the back of my mind that he was going to get him (Cook) first ball, although I didn't know it was going to be like that. But I didn't say anything to Ryno as we were walking out because I didn't want to jinx him.

You do get that occasionally, the other boys do as well. They get that feeling a wicket is going to fall but don't say anything, then they come up afterwards and go 'yeah, I knew that was going to happen.'

Whether we're just full of it or not, I'm not sure.

4. Having Jimmy Anderson caught at short leg by George Bailey to finish the third Test, and enable Australia to reclaim the Ashes for the first time since 2009

Mitch's thoughts: To see the guys' faces when we won the Ashes back here in Perth, that was probably one of the best moments of the summer for me.

To be honest, I didn't know what to do when that ball went up in the air off Anderson. I was sort of stuck in the middle of the pitch.

I went to go to George (Bailey), and then I stopped and I was not sure what to do. It was surreal and a little bit awkward actually until the boys all came in and we were got together in a huddle.

That definitely brought a tear to my eye, just the emotions of it all - what I had been through, what the team had been through, and all the ups and downs that had come before.

5. Scattering the stumps of England's Jonny Bairstow during the Boxing Day Test in front of a world record crowd at the Melbourne Cricket Ground

Mitch's thoughts: There were a few balls throughout the summer that I remember as being quite exciting, but I reckon this would be one that not many people would necessarily remember.

When Jonny Bairstow came in for his first innings of the series in Melbourne I went pretty hard at him. He got one away over the top (of slips) but he was backing away a bit, so I threw in the full one and bowled him. 

I was actually really happy with that one, when the plans come off. I like to keep it simple – the game hasn't changed that much for a fast bowler. You're setting them up and then hopefully knocking them over.

6. Graeme Smith finding himself all at sea against a brutal short ball in the first Test against South Africa at Centurion, which set the tone and the foundation for Australia's famous series victory

Mitch's thoughts: Yeah, that was pretty good. Especially because the South Africans knew what was coming. 

They had been speaking in the media before the Test saying they knew what to expect, that I would target them in exactly that way and that nothing had changed with me over the years.

So it was good to have that plan come off – I think he (Smith) knew that he was going to get short balls at him, no doubt about that. But when they know it's coming and you can pull it off, as a fast bowler that's really exciting.

What was just as satisfying for me was that I came out and blasted them in that first Test, and then they blamed it all on the (Centurion) pitch.

As far as the summer went, I guess it's never perfect - but it was pretty damn good. I certainly can't complain – we had great crowds, the guys were fantastic to play with and we had so much fun.