Adelaide: The tragic death of Phillip Hughes has cast a pall of gloom but Australian pacer Mitchell Johnson today said he will not tone down the aggression in his bowling when the home team faces India in the first cricket Test starting here tomorrow.
The series had been delayed owing to Hughes' death after being hit on the head by a bouncer in a Sheffield Shield game two weeks ago.
Mitchell Johnson. Pic/ AFP
"We've got to play the way that we've been playing and that's been aggressive. That's the way I've always played the game and I know how the boys will be, going out there and playing the best cricket they can. If that's bowling the short ball like we have been, then that's how we'll do it," said Johnson ahead of the first Test.
"We'll assess the conditions obviously, but we're not going to change a thing. As a bowling unit, the last probably 18 months for me personally I've been bowling very aggressive and I'm not going to change that," he added. When asked pertinently, what his reaction would be if he hit a batsman on the head, Johnson replied, "I'm not sure. It might be a different reaction this time. I haven't hit anyone yet so I don't know how I'm going to feel."
Cricket Australia and South Australia Cricket Association have planned rich tributes to their late cricketer. Hughes has been declared as the 13th man for the Australian team with all the playing members wearing his cap number 408 on their Test jerseys in this first match of the series.
"It's really special," said Johnson about the tribute. "His family, I think, that would make them very proud. I'm very proud to be able to wear that number through this Test. We've named him as the 13th man as well. It's all very special."
It has been a stressful time for the Australian players to return to cricket. Their rehabilitation began on Friday with a team-building exercise and since then they have had training sessions leading to this first Test.
However, things will still be emotional tomorrow morning at the Adelaide Oval, Hughes' adopted home ground. "It's going to be an emotional morning and probably looking at it from our first little part of the game, for me going out there and bowling the first spell might be the most difficult. Then we might just get into the game a bit more but I think mentally, we've had a few training sessions and the vibe's good," said Johnson.