Voges warns Cook ‘Beware of Mitch’

Alastair Cook and (left) MItchell Johnson during the 2014 Ashes series
Alastair Cook and (left) MItchell Johnson during the 2014 Ashes series
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England have been warned already – Mitchell Johnson is in frightening form once again as the 2015 Ashes loom.

Australia’s left-arm fast bowler was the unstoppable force two winters ago, with 37 wickets at fewer than 14 each, as Alastair Cook’s tourists were swept aside 5-0.

Home hopes are rising that the odds can be overturned in this summer’s rematch.

But to that end, Cook’s men may do well to simply ignore the eye-witness evidence from Australia batsman Adam Voges – who reports Johnson has had his team-mates hopping round the Cardiff nets to keep their stumps intact.

Voges, just two matches into his Test career at the advanced age of 35, stresses Johnson will serve his team best in a series set to get under way today if he keeps his triumphs of 2013-14 uppermost in mind.

“I don’t think it will hurt us at all,” he said.

“I think Mitch will go into this series extremely confident with what he did in the last Ashes series – and so he should.

“But at the end of the day, it all comes down to how we go on Wednesday when we all walk out there and get started.

“He has every reason to walk out there feeling very, very confident.”

He will have every right to, apparently – having had opener Shaun Marsh and vice-captain Steve Smith, among others, on their mettle in practice.

“Our net sessions aren’t much fun at all at the moment,” added Voges.

“He’s got his zip back –he’s bowling fast, and he’s swinging them as well. That is the biggest thing with Mitch. There’s always been genuine pace, but when he’s swinging it at pace as well then he’s a different proposition.

“We saw him hit Shaun Marsh) on the hand.

“Steve Smith ended up on his backside by the stumps at one stage. So he’s as ready to go as he possibly can be. I’m sure he’s going to play a huge part in this series.”

England, who will have Australia’s ‘other’ left-armer Mitchell Starc to contend with this summer, too, go into the series with the possibility of a little inside information from new coach Trevor Bayliss.

The Australian has arrived in the nick of time, following another management overhaul as England seek the right formula for a resurgence.

Lancashire and England wicketkeeper Jos Buttler believes they may just have cracked the code this time.

“There’s been a lot of change in English cricket,” he said.

“So I guess things have been up in the air, and it is tough to say there’s a settled side going into the Ashes.

“But I think in the past few months it has become a lot more settled.

“Things have taken shape, and I think that (drawn) New Zealand series and the ODIs (victory) have galvanised the team even more so.

“There are guys in place... there’s a new head coach in place, which is going to give us a chance in this series to produce the cricket we think we can to win.”