The Ashes: Johnson's rise from 'zero to hero...'

RICKY PONTING believes Mitchell Johnson's "unbelievable" spell of fast, swing bowling transformed not just the third Test but perhaps the entire Ashes series.

Johnson's first-innings six for 38 – and specifically a fearsome spell of four wickets for seven runs – obliterated England's frontline batting on day two at the WACA.

The tourists had no answer, faltering from 78 for none to 187 all out in reply to 268.

The consequence, after Michael Hussey's second hundred of the series had consolidated Australia's advantage and Ryan Harris had – like Johnson – finished with nine wickets in the match, was home victory by 267 runs less than halfway through the fourth morning.

"Mitch's spell was unbelievable, probably one of the all-time great Ashes spells – and to have that happen when it did, and have him coming into the game under a bit of pressure as well, was an amazing achievement from him and brilliant for the team," said Ponting.

Johnson could hardly have gone more conspicuously from zero to hero, having been dropped for the second Test after a woeful none for 170 and a 19-ball duck for good measure in last month's opening draw at Brisbane.

His man-of-the-match performance on his new home ground in Perth began with 62 runs to resuscitate Australia's first innings from 137 for six, and culminated in match figures of nine for 82 for the left-armer.

"It's set up this victory, and no doubt now set up the series for us," Ponting added.


"It's transformed him and it's transformed the way that everybody talks about him and thinks about him as a bowler, whether that's in this room or in the English dressing room – most importantly in the English dressing room.

"Some of the deliveries he bowled that got their batsmen out will now have them thinking seriously about the way they play him.

"I heard some whispers coming into the game that they had Mitch's type of bowling worked out and they knew how they were going to play him.

"I'm not sure if they're saying that now."

Ponting was always optimistic that Australia could exploit perceived English vulnerabilities to extreme pace and bounce at this venue, where they have so rarely succeeded.

"I'd seen some other results in places around the world that they'd had," he said, having previously noted England's innings defeat on a similar pitch in Johannesburg at the start of this year.

"I know a lot about their stats and their facts and figures here at the WACA, which don't make for flattering reading. So I felt this was a good week for us."

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