Johnson relishes chance to attack Strauss

MITCHELL Johnson has welcomed the challenge posed by Ricky Ponting's call to target rival captain Andrew Strauss in the Ashes series.
The left-arm quick relishes the prospect of bowling to left-handed opener Strauss in the swing-friendly English conditions.

"Over in South Africa, I started to swing the ball and (Strauss) being a left-handed batsman, it will go away from him," he said. "I like bowling to lefties so that's something that I'm looking forward to.

"It's going to be a great challenge and he's been scoring a few runs but hopefully we can put a bit of pressure on him and maybe their side will follow."

Johnson says he would be happy to hand over leadership of Australia's pace battery to the returning Brett Lee and Stuart Clark in the Ashes series.

But Ponting may have other ideas after Johnson spearheaded the attack superbly in their injury-enforced absence against South Africa.

"It (carrying the attack) has been something that I never thought I could handle but I've done OK out of it and I'm looking forward to the experienced guys of Lee and Clark coming back in to show the way," Johnson said.

"Those guys are the senior guys and they've got the experience and they've been around to earn their positions.

"I'll be looking forward to those guys taking the leadership role and I'm not going to change anything in my game.

"In South Africa I had that leadership role and didn't change my game. I just tried to lead by example and things are going to be the same over in England, hopefully."

The Ashes will be Johnson's first time playing internationally in England and he is looking forward to getting more movement in the air in the swing-friendly conditions.

"It's a pretty big event for me and my first time over in England for a while," said Johnson.

"I was there when I was 17 playing Australian 19s, but I'll be looking to feed off the experienced guys that have played county cricket over there.

"From what I've heard, the conditions are a lot different. It's a bit cooler and the wickets are a little bit softer and you tend to get a bit of movement early with the new ball and a little bit of swing here and there."

 ¦ England batsman Owais Shah said the decision of his county side, Middlesex, to sign Phillip Hughes had not given Australia a huge advantage ahead of the Ashes.The 20-year-old left-handed opener scored three first-class centuries in his 574 runs at 143.50 for Middlesex during a six-week guest stint ahead of the Ashes series after his sensational maiden Test series in South Africa.

Middlesex was criticised by England national selector Geoff Miller for allowing Hughes to get experience of local conditions in the run-up to the Ashes.

But Shah, speaking ahead of the first one-day international between England and the West Indies at Headingley, defended Middlesex's decision to sign Hughes when it was by no means certain he would be playing in the Ashes. "He's a wonderfully talented batman. I was lucky enough to play four games with him and in two we had a really good partnership," Shah said.

"Playing in England has got its advantages. He would get used to the moving ball. From a batter's point of view, he has had the ideal preparation. But Middlesex, who are my club, wanted to get the best player they could and get in to challenge for trophies.

"I don't think you can say that because this one guy has come in and played with us for six or seven weeks, it's going to tip the Ashes in their favour or our favour. It runs deeper than that."

The Age

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