'Rusty' Johnson will only get better | cricket.com.au

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'Rusty' Johnson will only get better

Spearhead finds rhythm on return at the WACA, with speed set to follow

England's shell-shocked batsmen were not alone in their reluctance to pay heed to the giant video screens at the WACA Ground when they flashed up the speeds Mitchell Johnson was achieving in his return after more than a month away from international cricket.

Despite inflicting another sizeable scar on England's top-order during yesterday's Carlton Mid ODI Tri-Series final in Perth, Johnson claims he made a mental note to avoid checking his speeds and relying instead on his innate sense of rhythm.

Besides, his return – in both a physical and a statistical sense – didn't require a speedometer read-out to be judged successful or otherwise.

His figures of 3-27 from seven overs – his first hit-out after being ruled out of the final Commonwealth Bank Test against in Sydney last month and then missing the early matches of the tri-series for personal reasons – would suggest he was back as a force.

Johnson took two wickets in two balls in Perth

The fact those three scalps comprised three of England's batting mainstays (No.3 James Taylor, opener Moeen Ali and captain Eoin Morgan – the latter two in consecutive deliveries) reinforces the integral role Johnson will likely play in the upcoming ICC World Cup.

"I felt a little bit rusty, a little bit nervous coming in," Johnson revealed in the wake of Australia's 112-run victory that ensured it secured the tri-series trophy without dropping a game and with scarcely missing a beat.

"I was just really keen to get out there and play a game of cricket.

"I felt pretty comfortable, I've played over 150 one-day games now so I had the confidence behind me.

"I looked up (at the speed reading) a couple of times just to see, as you do, but I tried to stay away from looking up much and just focus on what I needed to do.

"Pace wise, out of the hand it felt really good most of the time.

"The more games I play, I get into that rhythm of bowling and I feel much better the more I've bowled."

The decision to employ Johnson as first-change quick on the fast-bowler friendly WACA pitch surprised some, but the 33-year-old claimed the ploy was hatched by coach Darren Lehmann and captain George Bailey prior to the start of their team's defence of their 50-over total of 8-278.

However, rather than being utilised as a stock bowler in the middle-overs, the reigning ICC Player of the Year operated in spells of four and three overs in much the same way as he does in Test cricket, to generate maximum impact.

And it was a weapon that those members of England's team who were in Australia for last summer's Ashes whitewash would well remember – the brutally accurate short ball – that led to the dismissal of Moeen and unsettled a couple of others.

"Bowling those short spells again was really nice," Johnson said of his return that will be completed with warm-up matches against India and the UAE before Australia's World Cup campaign kicks off (against England once more) at the MCG on February 14.

"My job is to go out there and try to bowl fast and be aggressive and take wickets.

"That's always what I've tried to do in all formats of the game.

"I felt like I was pretty close to that (yesterday) and (and) using that short ball definitely worked for me.

"That's what really excites me – the bowling attack that we have, have been able to stand up and bowls well throughout this series.

"Exciting times ahead for the Australian cricket team."

Johnson conceded that with new-ball options such as Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins available to the Australians, there is a chance he may take the not-quite-new ball at times throughout the World Cup.

"In one-day cricket you've got to learn to adapt.," he said.

"It could happen, it just depends on conditions.

"We've got two left-armers (himself and Starc) and we've got to think about what's best for our team.

"If it's me coming in at first-change I'd be happy to do that.

"I've always said I love opening the bowling for my country (but) that's where I feel I have confidence because I've opened the bowling, bowled first-change, second-change, in power plays.

"I'm happy to bowl anywhere to be honest.

"It's going to be something that from game to game is going to come up in our team meetings."

As for Morgan's post-match declaration that his team, which has suffered at the hands of Johnson in the Test and one-day arena over the past 18 months, carries no mental scarring the Australian fast bowler left that for others to judge.

England captain Eoin Morgan denied his side has a particular issue with Mitchell Johnson

But ahead of the much anticipated World Cup group opener in Melbourne in less than a fortnight, Johnson was not shy about landing an early verbal blow when asked about Morgan's claim that it was the host nation under the most pressure heading into that game.

"Every team is under pressure, it's a World Cup," Johnson said.

"They (England) are dreaming if they think they're not under pressure. Every team is going to be under pressure.

"It's a knockout situation – you've got to win pretty much every game, that's the way I see it.

"We're going to try and win all the games that we play in. That's our plan.

"There's going to be a little bit more pressure on us being a home World Cup. But we're prepared for that."