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Ashes: Mitchell Johnson must be blunted in third Test, says Nick Compton

Ashes anguish

Compton: England must have clear plan against Johnson

Nick Compton has urged England's batsmen to adopt a more cautious approach against Mitchell Johnson in the crucial third Ashes Test.

Left-arm quick Johnson has been a key figure for Australia, claiming 17 wickets in the first two Tests to help the hosts into a 2-0 series lead.

"If you look at Johnson as being the difference between the two teams, it's about trying to blunt him."

Nick Compton

The 32-year-old is expected to once again play a leading role when the sides meet on his home ground in Perth this week, where the Australians can reclaim the Ashes with victory.

On this week's What's The Story? Somerset opener Compton labelled Johnson the difference between the sides so far in this series.

However, he says if the tourists' top order can see off his initial, volatile spells, they can profit against the other members of the Australia attack.

"Mitchell Johnson has been absolutely exceptional," said Compton, who missed out on a spot in the England touring squad.

Johnson highlights 'mind games'

"Cricket is a game of skill and if you have skill that's superior to the opposition you're going to end up on the right side. At the moment, Australia have got someone with exceptional skill, in Mitchell Johnson, who is bowling exceptionally quickly.

"It's a difficult one [for England's batsmen] to come to terms with because some players will be going out there thinking 'I'm going to take Mitchell Johnson on and put the onus back on Australia' but, if you look at him as being the difference between the two teams, it's about trying to blunt him.

"It might look negative to be defensive but actually you're getting him later in the day, taking him into the second day and that's something England haven't done yet. Games are finishing early and haven't gone the full five days.

"[England need to think:] 'by hook or by crook I'm not going to let him get me out but I'm going to play the other bowlers'.

"We [played the other bowlers] in the summer and we won that battle."

Plan

Compton reckons England's confidence facing Johnson has been shaken by the lack of a clear plan of response to his bowling.

The batsman, who has recorded two tons in his nine Tests to date, says if each player goes to the crease with a method in mind of keeping Johnson at bay their self-belief will improve and they will be able to perform to their potential.

"Matt Prior has spoken about each individual working out his way [of playing Johnson] and [England coaches] Andy Flower and Graham Gooch will be trying to empower those guys to make their own decision," said Compton.

"Is it a case of going after the short ball? Is it a case of surviving? Each individual will have his own way of going about it.

"But self-belief becomes clouded when you don't have a plan.

"There's no worse feeling as a batsman, when you've got the chance to bat for a whole day and set up the platform for the team, giving your wicket away and playing a poor shot."

Fight

However, Compton believes England have the ability to turn their fortunes around and pointed to their recent 3-1 win in India as an example of the team's fighting spirit and evidence that they shouldn't be written off yet.

"England haven't had the best start to the tour in terms of preparation and the teams they've faced have been fairly weak," said Compton.

"Some of England's senior players haven't performed either and when you put that together it accounts for some of the problems they're having.

"But they've been challenged a lot over the last year and they've come back. For example, in India we got thumped in the first Test match and came back and won."