At his best, he was unplayable. At his worst, he was unwatchable.When in full flow Mitchell Johnson was a scary sight for every batsman.The retired left-arm pacer got the chance to bowl to some of the modern greats of the game in his playing days like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Kumar Sangakkara, Jacques Kallis,AB de Villiers. Steve Smith, Virat Kohli, Kane Williamson and Joe Root were the batting stars to dominate the cricket arena during Johnson’s twilight years in cricket.
While Smith, Root, and Williamson are one, two and three respectively in Test cricket’s batting rankings, Johnson has revealed that South Africa superstar AB de Villiers tops the lot.
“‘Smithy’ was always hard work in the nets. I never really got to play against him, maybe one or two games. At the WACA bowling against him he played really well,” Johnson told.
“Root was definitely a challenge, and Williamson, I didn’t get to see enough of him, but what I did see at the end of my career, he was on his game and really hard to bowl to. He didn’t really nick the ball and if he did he had good hands and it always dropped short.
“Virat was always competitive. You always had that challenge coming up against him, that you could have a bit of a go at him and he’d lose it for a couple of balls but then he’d get back on target. He played exceptionally well against us in Australia (during the 2014-15 summer). “Those guys are the future of the game.
“AB de Villiers was the guy who really stood out for me. Now some of these younger guys are coming up towards his standard. AB was a guy that was above everyone else for a long period; just how calm he was, he had all the shots.”
However, Johnson said that he respects and even enjoys – the work of the current generation, for the aggressive attitude they take into the five-day game.
“This generation – Smith, Williamson, Kohli – they do have all the shots and they take them into Test cricket,” he said.
“That’s great because it means the game flows along, there’s always something going on. “Those guys are all definitely tough to bowl to. But look, I’ll say it – they’re generally playing in very good batting conditions.”