Johnson talks up Anderson’s injury absence

Frank Dalleres
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AUSTRALIA paceman Mitchell Johnson has warned England they will miss attack spearhead James Anderson whoever replaces him in the fourth Investec Ashes Test, which starts tomorrow.

Johnson also called on the tourists to respond to last week’s eight-wicket drubbing at Edgbaston by levelling the series at Trent Bridge, in a match he regards as “a grand final”.

“It’s a massive loss for them,” he said of Anderson, who has a side strain and is expected to be replaced by Durham’s Mark Wood but hopes to return for the fifth Test at the Oval. “They’ll have to bring somebody else that has to match him, so it’s going to be pretty difficult to do. They will miss him. Whoever they bring in will have big pressure on them. We need to really improve in this game. It’s like a grand final for us.”

Johnson, so often a thorn in England’s side, became a target for the Edgbaston crowd as the hosts took a 2-1 lead in the series but insists he is happy to be a lightning rod for his team.

“I really enjoyed it,” he added. “It was nice to hear the chants of Mitchell, Mitchell when England won the game. I tried to have a bit of fun with it as well throughout that game and enjoy myself.

“I’ve been able to take the focus away from other team-mates a little bit, and I guess it is a compliment to me. Everywhere around the world, they target players and try to take them off their game.

“It definitely drives me. That’s changed over the years. It’s something I’m able to block out or get involved when I need to.”

Australia, who whitewashed England Down Under in the last series, must avoid defeat this week to keep alive their hopes of retaining the Ashes.