England side 'backing away from fast bowlers'

Last updated 14:58 01/01/2014
ash
AP Photo
Australia's Mitchell Johnson, centre, celebrates the wicket of English's Jonny Bairstow, right during their Ashes cricket test match December 28.

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Mitchell Johnson has accused England of deliberately backing away from him and the other Australian fast bowlers as a tactic to unsettle the dominant pacemen in the Ashes.

Johnson said that while it's not uncommon for batsmen to step away from the crease before a delivery when members of the crowd appear in their line of vision, he says England appears to be doing it repeatedly for other reasons.

''That's how they play the game and have always played the game, Johnson said Wednesday. ''I don't think they'll change. It definitely is frustrating when it happens all the time, but it's part of their tactics.''

The issue came to a head during the Melbourne test when Kevin Pietersen walked away during Johnson's run-up, causing Johnson to throw the ball in the Englishman's direction.

''The only thing I regret is throwing the ball,'' Johnson said of the Pietersen incident. ''I think that was probably a little bit inappropriate but the rest of it was fine.  I just let him know that he needed to stop doing it. I won't back down if it happens again.''

Johnson, who has taken 31 wickets in the series which Australia leads 4-0, said he expects England to continue to employ the tactic in the fifth test at the Sydney Cricket Ground beginning Friday.

Australia could field the same XI in Sydney which has started the previous four tests, becoming only the fourth international team to achieve that feat five times in a five-test series.

Only England against Australia in 1884-85, South Africa against England in 1905-06 and the West Indies against Australia in 1991 were able to retain the same starting lineup throughout a full five-test series. 

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- AP

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