Having sent another ‘Pommie’ ducking for cover, Mitchell Johnson has warned broadcasters and corporate box patrons they may find themselves in his firing line over the coming summer as he aims to become as lethal with the bat as he has proved with the ball.
Johnson had former Zimbabwe fast bowler-turned commentator Mpumelelo ‘Pommie’ Mbangwa fearing for his safety when his crisply clubbed straight drive smashed into the reinforced glass of the television broadcast box at Harare Sports Club yesterday.
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Mbangwa, who was commentating with South African broadcaster Neil Manthorp at the time, said later he felt the ball was headed for him virtually from the instant it left Johnson’s bat, a premonition shared by the Australian allrounder.
“I thought it was going to hit, and I was just wondering what it was going to do,” Johnson said when asked his immediate thought as he launched his effortless swing at Zimbabwean seamer Tinashe Panyangara in the penultimate over of Australia’s record-breaking innings.
“I didn’t see it shatter, I just saw some of the commentators brushing away a bit of glass, so it was a good thing it didn’t shatter everywhere and the ball didn’t go through.
“I think another window up here (outside the players’ dressing room) had that shattered look to it, and I’m glad no-one got injured out of it.
“But it was a good feeling.
“I didn’t see the first ball that was bowled to me from the other end, I was just trying to adjust to being out in the middle again but that one felt really nice, right out of the middle.”
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Johnson, who destroyed England’s batting during last summer’s five-nil Ashes whitewash in Australia and has enjoyed a restorative break from cricket since his stint in the Indian Premier League, also explained that the shot was a satisfying result of the work he’s been doing to hit the ball straighter.
Which comes as bad news for television and radio commentators as well as corporate patrons who invariably populate the rooms beyond the large glass windows that are located directly behind a bowler’s arm at international venues.
“It’s something I’ve been working on, trying to hit straighter,” Johnson revealed.
“I’ve been trying to hit as straight as possible instead of hitting across the line.
“So I’m not going to apologise, but hopefully I didn’t hurt anyone up there.”
Johnson, who finished unbeaten on 20 in Australia’s 50-over total of 6-350, also took satisfaction from learning the other visible damage inflicted on the ageing safety glass protecting the commentary box was inflicted by West Indian opener Chris Gayle in a T20 fixture several years ago.
“I’m happy to be compared to Chris Gayle,” Johnson laughed.
“He’s obviously a pretty powerful guy, so if you want to compare me to him that’s fine.”