Cape Town (South Africa), Mar.23 (ANI): When former Australian fast bowler Dennis Lillee famously said a decade ago that Mitchell Johnson had enormous potential as a Test cricketer, he could have meant as a batsman.
Captain Ricky Ponting certainly thinks the pace bowler can go a long way with the bat and wasn't at all surprised to see the left-hander hit his maiden century of 123 not out in Australia's defeat in the third Test in Cape Town on Sunday.
"You can call me an all-rounder if you like," Johnson said casually at his post-match press conference after winning the player-of-the-series award for his 255 runs at 85.00 and 16 wickets at 25.00.
"I enjoy batting at eight," added the 27-year-old, whose batting average in 21 matches has risen to 34.70.
Australia will play Twenty20 games against South Africa on March 27 and 29 and Ponting appeared to be serious when he told Johnson: "You're opening in the Twenty20 games."
Johnson responded: "I don't mind that."
Ponting says he has regarded Johnson as an all-rounder from the first moment he saw him bat.
"As we saw today if someone can go out and make a Test-match 100 in 80-odd balls when you've got your backs to the wall, a lot of games are won and series changed as a result of somebody doing something like that," Ponting says.
"So I have known he has been capable of that and we saw in Johannesburg (96 not out) what he has been capable of as well. It's a matter of him not being happy with what he's done and keep working hard and make himself into that really good all-rounder that he hopes he can become," The Age quoted Ponting, as saying.
Johnson struck 11 fours and five sixes in his 123-ball innings, reaching his hundred with a six off last year's leading wicket-taker in Test cricket, pacer Dale Steyn. (ANI)