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Mitchell Johnson and the 5 Greatest Cricket Comebacks

Richard MorganContributor IFebruary 18, 2014

Mitchell Johnson and the 5 Greatest Cricket Comebacks

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    Themba Hadebe/Associated Press

    Mitchell Johnson's stunning recent return to the Australia setup will go down in history as one of the greatest comebacks the sport has ever seen.

    However, the Queenslander is not the only cricketer to have produced such a remarkable turnaround in his career, as these five other examples from down the years demonstrate...

Gooch's Indian Summer

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    England batsman Graham Gooch endured a calamitous Ashes series against Australia on home soil in 1989, making a sum total of just 183 runs in his five Tests that summer at a paltry average of only 20.

    However, it was not so much the Essex opener's raw numbers that were of concern, disappointing though they were coming from one of England's most accomplished and experienced players at that time—virtually all of the hosts' batsmen were struggling to come to terms with the Aussie pace attack.

    No, it was more the repeated manner of Gooch’s dismissals, falling over to the leg side and being trapped plumb lbw, with it becoming such a problem that the right-hander eventually asked to be left out of the team for the fifth Test at Trent Bridge.

    Yet incredibly, just 12 months later, Gooch was suddenly ranked as the world's best batsman after a run-filled summer against both New Zealand and India.

    In particular, it was the latter series that saw Gooch's renaissance complete as the now England captain scored an incredible 752 runs in only three Tests at an average of 125, including three hundreds and two fifties.

    And after starting the India series by making scores of 333 (see above video), 123 and 116, Gooch's career had really turned full circle.

     

Wondrous Warne Spins His Magic Web

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    When Australia's Shane Warne was chucked out of the 2003 World Cup and handed a 12-month ban from cricket after testing positive for a banned diuretics, the legendary leg spinner's international career was widely assumed to be over.

    Aged 35 by the time he was allowed to play again, and with his replacement in the side Stuart MacGill having shone in his absence, no one could have predicted what the blond-haired leggie had in store next.

    But Warne being Warne, he loved nothing better than proving his critics wrong, with the tweaker claiming an astonishing 26 scalps in just three Tests in his very first series back against Sri Lanka in 2004 (see above video).

    However, the spinner was not finished there either and, like a fine wine, Warne then just got better and better with age as he captured a world-record 96 wickets the following year, including an Ashes record of 40 against England in the summer of 2005.

It's Botham's Ashes

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    England skipper Ian Botham endured a torrid opening to the 1981 Ashes series after the home side lost the first Test at Trent Bridge.

    However, while his team did manage to leave Lord's with a draw in the second Test, the all-rounder found his own position under further scrutiny after embarrassingly bagging a pair at the home of cricket.

    And as many had predicted, Botham was then relieved of the captaincy for the next match at Headingley, returning to the rank and file under the leadership of Mike Brearley.

    Cue though a remarkable turnaround in both Botham's and England's fortunes as the inspirational player then proceeded to produce one of the greatest bursts of form in the next three Tests to inspire his side to a previously unlikely 3-1 series triumph.

    In that time, Beefy scored two of the most remarkable and destructive centuries in the history of the game, as well as recording three "five-fors," including one never-to-be forgotten spell of 5 for 1 (see above video) to help win the fourth Test at Edgbaston on his way to picking up three man-of-the-match awards on the bounce, too.

    As a result, that series became known simply and fittingly as Botham's Ashes.

The Little Master Reigns Supreme Again

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    In November 2002, Indian batting legend Sachin Tendulkar scored his 31st Test ton, 176 against West Indies at Eden Gardens in Kolkata.

    More than two years later and incredibly the Little Master was still waiting for Test-match century No. 32 of his career after what was his longest drought without a hundred since the wait between making his first and second tons in 1990 and 1992.

    And as Tendulkar walked to the crease at the Sydney Cricket Ground in January 2004 on the back of scores of 0, 1, 37, 0 and 44 in that series against Australia, questions were already beginning to be asked about whether it was now time for the batsman to call it a day.

    The right-hander had already passed his 30th birthday, with little seemingly left for him to achieve in the game, although try telling that to the batting genius.

    Tendulkar would go on to score an unbeaten 241 (see above video), as well as a further 20 Test hundreds over the course of the next seven years, obliterating every single batting record in the process.

Alderman Swings It Australia's Way

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    Aussie swing bowler Terry Alderman really made a name for himself after capturing a remarkable 42 wickets at a cost of just 21 in six Test matches in England in the summer of 1981.

    However, the Western Australian's career was then interrupted on two separate occasions, firstly after badly injured his shoulder while tackling an English spectator who had invaded the ground at the WACA in the 1982/83 return Ashes series Down Under.

    And then again when Alderman was forced to endure a self-imposed exile from the Australia team after deciding to join a rebel tour to South Africa in 1985/86 and 1986/87, meaning the paceman missed both the 1985 and 1986/87 Ashes series after being banned from international cricket for three years.

    But after the player's suspension came to an end, Alderman returned to the Australia side and, on their tour of England in 1989, the paceman destroyed the home team's experienced batting lineup to once again finish an away Ashes series with a bucketload of wickets against his name.

    Alderman's 41 scalps at an eye-watering average of only 17, including six "five-fors" and one 10-wicket match haul, completed one of the greatest-ever comebacks the game has ever seen.

     

     

Magnificent Mitch Destroys the Old Enemy

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    Johnson turned 32 last November and was not even certain of being selected by his country to feature in the 2013/14 Ashes Down Under after being overlooked for the previous series that summer.

    However, with the home side ready to try anything in order to finally get their hands back on the urn for the first time since 2006/07, the mercurial left-arm paceman was recalled for the opening Test in Brisbane last November, and the rest as they say is history.

    Johnson went on to win the man-of-the-series award and the prestigious Allan Border medal after capturing a quite remarkable haul of 37 wickets at just 13 in his five Tests.

    And as if to prove that series was no flash in the pan, the fast bowler has since followed up those frightening displays against England by routing the world's No 1-ranked Test side on their own patch with a man-of-the-match performance in the first Test at Centurion, adding another 12 wickets to his career tally to now be ranked as the fourth-best bowler in Test cricket.

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