Mitchell Johnson, who rediscovered his lost form at Headingly during the series-levelling fourth Ashes Test, said he felt more confident by sledging England players and will continue his banters at the Oval as well.
The Australian paceman , who helped the visiting team comeback into contention to defend their title with his superb spell of 5-69 to wrap up the fourth Test inside three days, has had aggressive encounters with England players like Stuart Broad and Andrew Flintoff in the series so far.
“It felt good to do it (sledge) and I’ll continue to do it. Just keep puffing my chest out and keep getting into the contest... a stare here and there. I think that’s definitely worked for me and I’ve definitely got a lot more confidence now and really enjoying it again,” Johnson said.
“I don’t normally say too much but maybe it was a bit of a surprise to those guys for me to say something,” he was quoted as saying by the Foxsports website.
The series-deciding fifth Test will be played from August 20 at the Oval while the tourists play a two-day practice match with England Lions at Canterbury on Aug 15-16.
But Johnson admitted he did not know how to deal with English crowds whose hostile behaviour made him lose focus in the second Test and he managed only 3-132 from 21.4 overs in the first innings.
“I bowled a lot of wide, short balls. That was a pretty tough moment for me. To be copping it from the English crowd, I didn’t know how to deal with it at the time. It was the most I’ve copped it,” Johnson said.
Asked how he regained his form, Johnson said it took a simple word with vice-captain Michael Clarke during a tour match in Northamptonshire, between the second and third Tests, for him to click again.
“During that Lord’s Test, I can remember clearly I was thinking about wrist position, I was thinking about front-arm pull-down, I was thinking about running in, I was thinking about everything that I could,” he said.
“Edgbaston was totally different. I just ran in, didn’t worry about it. Michael Clarke said to me at the practice game, when he came out to field, ‘Just run in and bowl fast. That’s what you do best’.
“That’s what I’ve been trying to do: run in, hit my areas and not worry about technical stuff out on the field. It’s been a bit different than normal. The first two Tests especially, I felt a bit more pressure than I have in the past. I’ve started to handle it a lot more now.”
Johnson has 16 wickets at 32.62 for the series, and has retained his No.3 ranking on the ICC’s top Test bowlers list after the spirited fightback in Leeds.