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the handlebar-moustachioed Johnson obliterated England by picking up 37 wickets at 13.97 and is now

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Mitchell Johnson bowls to Hashim Amla

It takes a special sort of bowler to strike fear and panic in the hearts of elite batsmen

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I Was There When Johnson blew South Africa's house down

It was the summer of 2014. Fresh off his monstering of England at home, the world's most feared fast bowler steamed in in Centurion

Daniel Gallan | March 29, 2018

February 12, 2014. Graeme Smith wins the toss and chooses to field first against Australia at SuperSport Park in Centurion. The South Africans have turned this ground into a fortress, having won 11 of the last 13 Tests. They have not lost here since the controversial encounter with England, where Hansie Cronje and Nasser Hussain made what was sold at the time to be a gentlemanly agreement to forfeit an innings each for the sake of a result.

The one and only Australian visit here ended in a resounding eight-wicket defeat in a 1997 dead rubber but a lot has changed since then and Michael Clarke's side has come to lay down a marker.

The Australians have rediscovered their mongrel after three consecutive series defeats - to South Africa at home and India and England away - and now possess the apex predator of world cricket in the form of the terrifying Mitchell Johnson.

The left-armer has always been quick, but as he showed in the emphatic 5-0 Ashes victory, he can now combine destruction with accuracy. He has figured out how to deploy a creeping barrage on a batsman and only sends him back to the hut once he has pounded him to marmalade.

With broad shoulders and swinging muscular tattooed arms, the handlebar-moustachioed Johnson obliterated England by picking up 37 wickets at 13.97 and is now focusing his crosshairs on a South Africa without the recently retired Jacques Kallis.

"Though I don't like watching my team going through something like that, there is a part of me that can't help but enjoy it. It was like, 'This is amazing. How fantastic to be a part of this!'" Dale Steyn

Mitchell Johnson: I was in the best form of my life and loving my cricket. We were feeling good as a team and we were up for this. Playing against South Africa always ignited my competitiveness. I just had the belief in myself and was doing things my way, which was being aggressive and attacking.

South Africa know what is coming, how can they not? They'd been on the receiving end of a Johnson onslaught before, in 2008, when he claimed a career best 8 for 61 in the first innings in a losing cause in Perth. But knowing that a storm is about to break and bracing for it are two different things.

Dale Steyn, South Africa strike bowler: We knew of the threat that Mitch presented and always banked on him being a serious challenge. We saw what he did in the Ashes.

Johnson: The fact that they knew exactly what was coming didn't bother me. Some bowlers rely on variation and outfoxing a batsman. I did too, to some extent, but the way I saw it was - if it's coming down at 145 or 150kph, he has to find a way of playing it.

Steyn: If a cricket side were a rock band, the fast bowler would be the lead guitarist who plays the solos. Not everyone is able to be the guy who can strike genuine fear in world-class batsmen. Mitchell was one of those bowlers and he'd use that fear to get you out. Michael Clarke would have just revved him up and let him go.

Smith's decision seems vindicated. Shortly after lunch on the first day the tourists are in trouble when Clarke's is the fourth wicket to fall as he is caught at fine leg off a Steyn short ball with the score on 98. Despite the positive start, there is a sense of urgency among the South Africans.

Ryan McLaren, South Africa allrounder: During my first spell I could tell things would become much tougher as the game went on. Morne Morkel, who was at mid-off, and I noticed that there was already uneven bounce in the morning session. We knew we had to restrict them to around 250 or else we may be staring up at a mountain.

Impatient bowling and resilient batting combine to see Shaun Marsh (batting in a Test for the first time in two years) and Steven Smith (yet to score a hundred against a team not called England) combine for a fifth-wicket partnership of 233.

Both are dismissed on day two with three figures to their name - Smith with 100, Marsh with 148 - and Johnson bludgeons six fours on his way to a handy 33. The Australians are eventually bowled out for 397, the second highest score by a visiting team in Centurion since India's 459 in 2010.

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