'I was in the zone': MJ's best spell

Retired left-arm firebrand nominates the most destructive performance in his superb career

Mitchell Johnson produced some memorable spells during his spectacular 73-Test career, and the former firebrand has selected one outstanding effort as the pick of the bunch.

Johnson took 12 five-wicket innings hauls and three 10-wicket match hauls among 313 Test wickets, 37 of which came during the 2013-14 Ashes.

In one of the most dominant individual displays in a Test series in recent memory, the left-arm quick destroyed England to spearhead an Australian five-nil series whitewash.

Several spells – most notably in Brisbane and Adelaide – have quickly become the stuff of legend.

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However Johnson didn't nominate either as his finest, instead picking one particularly potent day out against South Africa as the best of the lot.

Statistically, it certainly was; Johnson took 8-61 – the best return in his career in either Test or first-class cricket – to rattle through the Proteas at the WACA Ground back in December 2008.

"I have had a couple of spells where I've bowled well and not been sure why it's worked out so well, but I've just gone with it and let everything just flow," Johnson said during a Twitter interview on Tuesday. 

"Generally your best spells are ones that you don't think about; it just happens, and you get in that zone.

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"It doesn't happen very often – I think the Perth Test in '08 against South Africa, when I got 8-61 (was my best).

"We lost the game, which was quite disappointing, but that spell I bowled, I just felt like I was in the zone.

"I felt really light and easy, I knew exactly what ball I wanted to bowl every time, and pretty much put the ball wherever I wanted to.

"When those moments come along – and there aren't too many of them – you enjoy them."

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The performance came in the first Test innings in which Johnson had taken on South Africa, the fearsome left-armer unleashed by Ricky Ponting to devastating effect as he claimed the scalps of Graeme Smith, AB de Villiers and Jacques Kallis among many others in a scintillating display.

Over the ensuing series, and the away tour that followed, Johnson inflicted plenty more hurt on Australia's African rivals, at one point breaking Smith's left hand in Sydney, before busting the other one a month later in Durban.

In all, he claimed 64 wickets in just 12 months against the Proteas, at an average of 25.64.