Kevin Pietersen had a way with people: they love him or hate him. Mitchell Johnson hated him.
In his recently released autobiography, Johnson reveals how he almost came to blows with the brilliant but maverick England batsman the day before the first Test in Cardiff on their 2009 Ashes tour. It took the immediate intervention of teammate Stuart Clark to head him off and calm the situation down.
Mitchell reveals that it all started when his mother gave a’naive’ interview in which she complained about her son having moved to Perth to be with his then girlfriend, Jessica Bratich.
Johnson said he was very protective of his mother, but the developing news story of a ‘rift’ between he and his mother left his mind scrambled.
The fiery fast bowler tells how events came to a head as the teams warmed up on the morning of the first Test, when Kevin Pietersen, hitting balls in the direction of the Australians, made some comments that Johnson believes to this day ‘crossed the line’.
‘He got really personal and I’m not going to dignify his comments by repeating them. The red mist descended and I stormed in his direction with every intention in the world of hitting him. This was all being played out in full view of spectators who had arrived early and the media. Stu Clark saw it all happen and came rushing over just as we came together and jumped between us.’
Pietersen was wholly unaffected for he top-scored for England with 69 as they piled up 435. Johnson, though, did take three wickets for 87… but not Pietersen’s.
Johnson, it seems, was easily riled. Even the England team’s ‘Barmy Army’ got to him.
They had two main songs directed at him: ‘He bowls to the left, he bowls to the right, that Mitchell Johnson, his bowling is shite’; and another that played on the perceived squabble between his mother and his girlfriend.
‘England knew they had their foot on my throat and they weren’t going to let me up. When I batted, the close fielders sang the Barmy Army songs.’
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