Are we witnessing the resurrection of Mitch?

Over the years, I’ve spent much breath, foolscap paper and keyboard time on bagging the mercurial Rubik’s cube that is Mitchell Johnson.

The triumphs and tribulations of his professional existence have fuelled the quill and filled pub air with much problem-solving chatter since his test debut in 2007.

The bloke has been a two-legged topic from the day he hit the scene with his Russian roulette output moving his reputation wildly between match-winning bazooka and amateurish peashooter.

Fist karaoke.

From splitting the unflappable melon of Jacques Kallis to filling many a chorus in a loaded catalogue of pisstake chants, pinning a form line on Johnson has been like trying to spear a slippery blowfly with a toothpick. It’s done my head in on many occasions.

Such tendencies to suddenly plummet combined with his off-field affairs involving rank tatts, junk-hugging jock deals and claw-trading between feuding female family factions eventually made him the regular butt of many jokes and a guaranteed recipient of my pitiless booing whenever he bowled another no-ball.

It was therapeutic to lash his inconsistency, and I’ve got to say that I’ve definitely filled my boots at his expense.

However, after all of these years of criticism, I’ve decided that it’s time to pay the bloke some respect after his recent efforts to rebuild himself as a force.

On a personal level, I’m sure he will be mighty pleased that he has me in his corner.

After sustaining a long-term injury to his big piggie on tour in South Africa last year, I gleefully made the assumption that it was time to carve a tombstone for Johnson’s international career. I high-fived my dog and celebrated the fact there would be no more summers wasted searching for a miniature collectible car inside a 7 kg box of cereal.

However, in super-impressive fashion, the left-armer has quietly gone back to state cricket for Western Australia and rediscovered his old frightening self. Amid the blisters, elbow grease and empty stands of Shield cricket, he’s slowly returning to the mould of the young helmet-cracking tearaway that once had us excited at the prospect of regular laughs at the expense of opposition batsmen in pain.

Under the tutelage of Dennis Lillee in the Wild West, Johnson is unleashing heavy deliveries that are regularly thwacking into the keeper’s gloves on the back of a revamped rhythmic run-up that has replaced the eyesore that was his former bulky and robotic plonking from before. His custom one-an-over Harmison ball seems to have faded and he is building pressure in testing sections of the wicket.

Against South Australia at the weekend, he combined a testing line with the leathery examination of midriffs, fingers and thigh pads at good pace in the mid-140 km/h range. Just ask a purple Michael Klinger and brown-trousered Kane Richardson, who both came in for some specials from the Johnson menu board on the back of good steam.

He also produced some hostility on the benign MCG wicket in the week before against the Bushrangers, terrorising the Victorian top order with back-bending bounce and that late in-duck to the right-handers that can separate him from other bowlers. He is looking relaxed, untroubled and most importantly, once again interested.

Most will probably say that he’s got a way to go before returning to Baggy Green calculations, and that this is just the beginning of a resurrection that is flowering in the sometimes under whelming surrounds of the domestic circuit.

Ponder this however; with Johnson’s resume showing plenty of highlights of South African decimation over the years combined with the unconditional paternal-type love the selection panel have for him, we could be looking at a return to the national squad sooner rather than later.

Did I hear someone say ‘smokie’ for the third test in Perth?

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Dane Eldridge Tries Hard

Contemporary rugby league surrealism and hot takes on Shane Warne

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