England not scared of Mitchell Johnson: Swann

CHLOE SALTAU
Last updated 14:59 10/12/2013

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Embattled spinner Graeme Swann is adamant England is not scared of Mitchell Johnson.

Swann, whose place in the team has been questioned after taking just four wickets at an average of 99 for the series, admitted Johnson's dangerous pace had contributed to the batsmen's reckless shot selection but denied they were frightened of him.

"I honestly don't think any of our batsmen fear for their physical safety," Swann wrote in his column for London newspaper The Sun.

"Bowling of that pace ups your heart-rate and sometimes people play more shots than normal because of the surge of adrenalin.

"We've had plenty of batsmen caught on the hook, for example, in the first couple of tests.

"But the ball only hits you for a split-second! We're so well protected these days that when we bat we shouldn't be too worried.

"I wouldn't have liked to face the West Indies in the early 1980s without a helmet... We virtually wear suits of armour - helmet, pads, gloves, box, thigh pad, inside thigh pad, chest pad - when we bat. So the ball doesn't actually hurt that much when it hits you. No, we're not scared."

Swann is usually a pugnacious lower order batsman but he scored a pair in Brisbane and didn't reach double figures in Adelaide, and has fallen to Johnson three times in four innings. The Australians have been ruthless in targeting the bodies of England's tailenders, with a close leg side field in place.

However, Swann insisted he was not the fastest bowler he had faced.

"Johnson has struck an absolute purple patch and is bowling very fast. He might not be the most skilful bowler with what he does with the ball but he has that raw pace and is causing us problems," Swann wrote.

'"He is not the quickest bowler I've faced, though. There used to be more fast bowlers around a few years ago.

"Trust me, I defy anybody who has faced Pakistan's Shoaib Akhtar bowling flat out to say they have faced a quicker bowler - I still have nightmares about him!

But anybody who is bowling at more than 90mph like Johnson will be very awkward if they get things right.

"Being hit hurts your pride more than anything else. We're worried about getting out rather than getting hurt."

Legendary Australian paceman Glenn McGrath has tipped the resurgent Johnson to rise to the top of the test bowling rankings.

"Dale Steyn, the current world No1, is a quality bowler but if Mitch keeps bowling like this it won't be long before he's up in the top two - or even No1," McGrath wrote inThe Guardian.

"It's one thing to send the ball flying through at the WACA or the Gabba but to have batsmen jumping around like he did on a placid Adelaide deck is something pretty special."

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- The Age

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