Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mum was to blame: Mitchell Johnson

MITCHELL Johnson says he was living in denial during the Ashes series and admits his public split with his mother undermined his tour of England.

Johnson has revealed the emotional toll caused by his mum Vikki Harber's claim that the fast bowler was "stolen" from her by his fiancee Jessica Bratich.

The left-arm quick battled an Ashes form slump - he struggled to hit the pitch during the second Test at Lord's - but at the time insisted personal problems were not to blame.

Now Johnson admits he was fooling himself, but insists he has emerged a mentally tougher person.

"I guess it (poor form) started off with the personal side of things. That really probably did get to me," he said yesterday.

"I was probably denying it as well at the time.

"The personal things that came out, it was mostly through Lord's where I felt that pressure.

"Copping it from the crowd probably didn't help.

"Mentally, I have learnt to be a lot stronger. I've just got to concentrate on what I'm doing out in the middle.

"This is what I have to do for a living and I've just got to leave everything behind me when I'm out there."

"My problems got technical as well because I was thinking about it but in the end it was just more of a mental thing." Johnson said.

"I just had to concentrate on where I wanted to bowl the ball and how I wanted to get those guys out and I just wasn't doing that.

"Hopefully I have passed all that and I can mentally be stronger.

"I block things out pretty well normally but I think it was just the Ashes, the whole hype of it, and the personal things that came out."

Former Australian captain Kim Hughes said Johnson was performing no better than a club bowler and had hit "rock bottom with his confidence" after his mother's outburst.

After being stripped of the new ball in England, Johnson is set to open the bowling with Ben Hilfenhaus in Thursday's first Test against the West Indies in Brisbane.

Captain Ricky Ponting believes Johnson bowls better with the new Kookaburra ball used in Australia than the Duke ball of England.

Johnson said the faith shown in him by Ponting had helped turned his form around.

"I definitely thought I wasn't going to play the Edgbaston (third) Test," he said.

"I'm glad I got that opportunity again. You just can't take anything for granted.

"Who knows where I could have been now? I could be back playing state cricket."

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