Mitchell Johnson is one of the most enigmatic players to have graced the cricket field. When he is on song, he is impossible to play. When he’s having an off day, things can get ugly.
Johnson made his Test debut back in 2007 against Sri Lanka, where he took impressive first start figures of 4/96.
2008/09 was a standout season for the left-arm quick, who finished as the ICC Cricketer of the year. The hot form started on home soil against South Africa, where a spell of 5/2 saw him finish with 8/61.
The tour of South Africa at the start of 2009 was an exceptional month of cricket for Johnson, who finally made the cricket ball swing. Eight wickets in the first Test were trumped by his blistering 96*, which featured 26 runs in one over (the most by an Australian player).
His three early wickets in the second Test were overshadowed by his fiery brand of bowling, which saw Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis retire hurt.
To cap off the remarkable tour, Johnson belted his maiden Test ton with an exhilarating 123* off just 86 balls. His incredible season saw him finish with 63 wickets, and he also became the first Australian to take over 50 wickets and score 500 runs in a season.
While he managed to swing the ball in South Africa, Johnson has regularly struggled for consistency, which has seen him fall in and out of the national side. A disastrous tour of England was forgotten when he took match figures of 10/82 in the third Ashes Test at the WACA.
Johnson’s raw pace made him a star in the ODI team, where he picked up 188 wickets in 121 appearances. His strike rate of 93.1 suggested he was destined to become a more than useful all-rounder, but indifferent form has led to him being overlooked for national duties.
His recent form for Australia has been mixed. He took 3/50 against the West Indies in a solid showing at the MCG, but didn’t take a wicket as Australia lost inside three days to India in Delhi.
Johnson has enjoyed a successful IPL campaign for the Mumbai Indians, which has seen him take 15 wickets for the tournament. His 3/27 against the Chennai Super Kings saw him take three wickets in one over, only after having Michael Hussey dropped three times in a row by Kieron Pollard.
If Johnson misses out on national selection, then he will return to Western Australia for the upcoming 2013/14 season. His form at the back end of 2012/13 suggests he is still hungry to play consistent international cricket. For the moment, he is Western Australia’s gain.