Mitchell Johnson, scourge of England in the Ashes series four years ago, relished an opportunity to come face to face with England Lions as Perth Scorchers claimed a six-run defeat at the new Perth Stadium to avenge their defeat in the first of three T20 encounters.
It might have lacked the drama of his 37 Ashes wickets in 2013/14, but 10,000 spectators had been invited to the new stadium and Johnson was pumped up with desire to relive old times.
The Lions were helping to test the new square, and Johnson was out to test the Lions as he dismissed Joe Clarke in his opening burst and later bowled Mark Wood – this after Wood had the temerity to strike him over long on for six. Johnson completed his night by running out Dom Bess with a direct hit from the boundary.
Nick Gubbins, who took a stinging blow to the ribs from the first ball he received from Johnson, responded with 68 from 52 balls, comfortably the highest score of the match, but he was also run out, in the penultimate over, as the Lions fell short of the Scorchers’ total of 148 for 5.
“Facing Johnson was a great experience for me,” Gubbins said. “He was definitely switched on. He smacked me in the ribs from the first ball I faced, which was a nice little war wound to take with me. He was definitely scowling and saying a few words. “I loved it. You watch him on the TV and wonder what it’s going to be like facing him. That’s exactly the sort of test we all want when we come on tour with the Lions.”
Gubbins insisted that Wood was also high in pace, although he has not been able to force himself into the reckoning for the third Test at the WACA. “Woody’s bowling fast, really fast,” he said. “He was bowling pretty hairy stuff. It was a funny pitch, because some balls didn’t go through, but others flew.”
The deciding match against the Big Bash champions is at the Murdoch University ground on Friday – the last match of their tour before the Lions return to England next week.