This is a guest article from former professional bowler, and current Strength, Conditioning and Fast Bowling Coach Steffan Jones.
Why is Mitchell Johnson so unplayable at the moment?
What has made him change from a guy that struggled to hit the cut strip to now being the quickest bowler in the world and a genuine game changer?
It's not technique.
His bowling arm is slightly higher. but lets be honest, there is nothing drastic.
What has changed is this: The way he is treated. Johnson is now a finely tuned Ferrari. He sits in the garage until he's taken out and when he's out he gets absolutely floored! He's not taken out to get the bread from the shops. The Ferrari comes out when things need to be done quickly and impressively. The Head Coach believes in him and the value he brings. Like that sports car, Johnson is loved and cared for!
That's the way it has to be because you cannot physiologically keep the speed and intensity up for long periods of time.
Don't make a racehorse a workhorse
However, I've played in cricket teams where the valuable resource of the fast bowler is misused. They make the racehorse into a workhorse.
Unfortunately, physically it is impossible.
A bowler cannot bowl flat out for longer than 4-6 overs. Usain Bolt can't keep his 100m pace over 400m, let alone 1500m.
In fact, bowling long spells is a way to lose pace, and make bowlers bowl within themselves. You then get out of the habit and the mindset of bowling quickly. I'm convinced through 20 years of experience that bowlers become slow when they work at less than 100%.
So by using a gun bowler effectively and efficiently you have more chance of that bowler getting you a crucial wicket at the crucial point of the game. Pace frightens people. Fact. No one likes batting against a genuinely fast bowler.
That's just not happening right now. But you can see how important it is through the example of Mitchell Johnson.
If you look at how Australia are using Johnson the longest spell is 5-6 overs. That way he can keep the pace up and constantly unleash thunderbolts at the batters. His runs per over are irrelevant because he knows, the coach knows, Australia as a country know and the team knows his role. The Australian bowling attack has combination to back him up. Two bowlers hit line and length very effectively at a lively pace while a spinner wheels away to give the seamers a break at one end.
Then, when he's recharged and ready to be unleashed, Johnson is let loose on the opposition.
Why are you bowling long spells?
If you are being made to bowl long spells then ask the question "why?". Ask the coach and captain your role in the side. Get clarity so when you're asked to bowl you now what to do.
Every bowler has a role: A medium pacer or the all-rounder has the role of run rate control. Your job as a fast bowler is to make things happen, get wickets, rough the batter up.
In short: Bowl fast!
It's your future you deserve to know what teams expect of you. If clubs want you to slow down and hit areas, my advice is to find another club, a Darren Lehman type coach and be used as the strike bowler you deserve to be.
For complete training plans that fit this model for fast bowlers, check out Get Wheels and Advanced Speed Demon on PitchVision Academy.