SPEARHEAD: Australian bowler Mitchell Johnson steams in against Pakistan during the second Test in Abu Dhabi earlier this month.
SPEARHEAD: Australian bowler Mitchell Johnson steams in against Pakistan during the second Test in Abu Dhabi earlier this month. MARWAN NAAMANIAFP

Johnson vital to Aussie Test hopes against India

FORMER Test paceman Andy Bichel says Mitchell Johnson's embracing approach to leadership could spell doom for India this summer.

Bichel, who was on the Coast yesterday to represent the Bulls Masters team in an exhibition match against the Sunshine Coast Invitational XI, said Johnson long carried Australia's bowling hopes on shoulders that were previously unable to handle the load.

However, his performances over the past two years, including his annihilation of England in Australia's 5-0 Ashes triumph last summer, has illustrated a new beast relishing the responsibility of leading his fellow pacemen.

"It is a responsibility that he is now comfortable with and if Mitchell is going well, then so are the rest of the Australians," Bichel said.

"Any pace attack needs a leader and I think Mitchell Johnson did that very well last summer.

"It is up to Mitch to lead the attack and if he does that, then the Indians will have a pretty hard time."

Bichel said Johnson was most dominating with the new ball.

"Mitchell used to bowl with the old ball a lot but since taking the new ball and leading the attack, he has been going very well," he said.

"I have spoken to him about that a lot and he feels that it is up to him to do the job and I am sure he won't let us down."

And as strong as Johnson had been, Bichel said it was up to those around him to step up and help carry the load.

"Siddle will play some sort of role as well which will help Mitch and he can't do it on his own," he said.

"But it can be hard for the young guys like Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and James Pattinson because they are still learning.

"Once these boys get a bit older and a bit stronger, we will be in a better place."

Australia will play the first Test against India at the Gabba on December 4 and are heavy favourites to beat the sixth-ranked nation in this summer's series.

But Bichel said he expected little to separate the sides, providing India got a roll on.

"The bounce of the ball is key for India out here and if they can get through the new ball, then they can post some problems," he said.

"If they can get off to a reasonable start and give those guys in the middle a good platform, then I think they could do well.

"They have some good batsman who are scoring some runs so it won't be all smooth sailing for the Australians."

Bichel said he was ecstatic to be on the Coast and was looking forward to getting a feel for the region's cricketing prowess.

"I am so excited to be here on the Sunshine Coast because you guys have produced some great players like Ashley Noffke," he said.

"It is a great initiative to come up here and play but it is not just about the guys we will be playing out there.

"It is about someone's little brother or cousin that comes along and watches the match and walks away inspired."



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