Johnson sees old wounds in England

England's Ashes nemesis from '13-14 sees a deflated touring side full of self-doubt and fear

Mitchell Johnson sees some strong parallels between the current under-siege England touring team and the outfit that he was instrumental in crushing five-nil when the Ashes were last contested on Australian soil four years ago.

Johnson, who was a guest at today's Australia's training session at the WACA Ground although he resisted the urge to unleash at his former teammates in the nets, questioned England's capacity to mentally recover from last week's loss in Adelaide after they hauled themselves into a competitive position.

Match wrap: Australia win topsy-turvy second Test

And he suggested that former England captain Alastair Cook is mulling his future in the international game while pressure continues to mount on his successor as skipper, Joe Root, given his bold decision to bowl first in Adelaide and the off-field dramas that continue to engulf his team.

Johnson, who retired from Test cricket following the 2015 Test against New Zealand in Perth, conceded that the state of flux within England's touring party tends to appear more serious when viewed from a distance as opposed to what's apparent within their inner sanctum.

But the man who shocked Cook's touring party into meek submission in 2013-14, which led to a dramatic overhaul in personnel including the effective end of careers including star players Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen and Graeme Swann as well as coach Andy Flower, sees similar danger signs among Root's men.

"What I've seen now, the Australian team is focused on what they need to do (and it's) very similar to '13-14," Johnson said today.

"We just knew we needed to prepare ourselves the best way at training and then get ourselves physically and mentally right for the game, and it wasn't thinking we were 2-0 up. It was just starting a new game.

"It seems like they (Steve Smith's team) are in that sort of mind frame.

"England seem like there is a lot of stuff going on off the field.

"I think there's a lot of distractions, and I think they'll be deflated from the last performance because it was talked about that was their best chance of winning in Adelaide, with pink ball and conditions that suited them more.

"They were on a high and then to be deflated the way that they did, probably coming into the last day thinking they were going to win, and then for the Aussies to get that early breakthrough and roll through them.

"That'll be mentally hard for them to come up into this Test."

Johnson's 37 Ashes wickets, 2013-14

Johnson claimed that England's batting frailties against Australia's three-pronged pace attack, and particularly short-pitched bowling, were exposed in their respective second innings at Brisbane and Adelaide.

And that shortcoming will be further exploited on the faster, bouncier WACA surface he claimed.

It was Johnson's hostile targeting of England's batting throughout the 2013-14 series that was the key element of Australia's success, and led Pietersen to note in his subsequent autobiography that the tourists' top-order had no answers and "our tail-end batsmen were scared".

The 36-year-old, who has been training with his Perth Premier Cricket club in preparation for his upcoming season with Perth Scorchers in the KFC Big Bash League, believes the current England squad is nursing similar scars to those that came to destabilise them four years ago.

"England will struggle mentally," Johnson said.

"You've got guys like Alastair Cook who is struggling. He can't find form and I'd say he's thinking about retirement – he's played 150 Test matches, it's got to take it out of you.

"Joe Root is the skipper and there's a lot of pressure on him with what's happening outside the game, but also winning the toss (in Adelaide) and what he did last game was debatable and that's got to mentally take its toll on him as well.

"He'll be questioning and doubting himself.

"Then there's Bairstow, who I thought was a little bit up and down whether he was going to be their next senior player to step up, and we haven't seen that yet.

"They don't really have a lot going for them I don't feel, and I can say that now sitting on the outside now, its' easier to say. But that's just what I see."

Johnson was invited to attend Australia's training session by Bupa Support Team men's coach Darren Lehmann, and spent much of the session chatting with fast bowlers Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Jackson Bird.

The left-armer, who finished his 73-Test career with 313 wickets at 28.40, claimed he was keen to have a bowl in the WACA nets but was mindful that his teammates often disliked facing him at practice and he did not want to risk inflicting an injury with Australia 2-0 up in the Magellan Ashes.

👀 Look who was back at Aussie training today! Although @davidwarner31 wasn't fooled...

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He said most of today's conversations with the fast bowling cartel were restricted to generalities and a few of Johnson's observations, but he noted that the current three-pronged strike force reminded him of Australia's pace battery of 2013-14 – himself, Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle.

"They bring something different, a left armer (Starc) who bowls fast and swings it can clean up the tail," Johnson said.

"You've got Patty Cummins who has been through a lot of experiences already in his short career and he's learned a lot with his injuries, he's had and to come back and to perform so consistently so far. He bats as well.

"And Josh Hazlewood who bowls a really good line and length.

"They just all complement each other really well, and I see a really good potential in these guys if they can keep going."

2017-18 International Fixtures

Magellan Ashes Series

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

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 Australia won by 120 runs (Day-Night). Scorecard

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