Mitchell Johnson explains what Pietersen did to start feud before 2009 Ashes

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He was used to tearing batsmen to pieces in his prime, and former Australian cricketer Mitchell Johnson has lost none of his ferocity since retiring from international cricket back in 2015.

Johnson was the most frightening fast bowler England had ever came up against when they had the misfortune of facing him in his final Ashes series back in 2013-2014. He earned the name 'T-Rex' from his dominating displays, terrifying speed and the way he would position his arms as he approached the crease.

The former Queensland man's accomplishments meant he was a real scourge to the English national team, and Johnson made many intense rivalries as a result. One of the most famous of these was his 'beef' with former England batsman Kevin Pietersen.

Johnson and Pietersen's issues can be traced all the way back to 2009. Before Johnson's first Ashes test in Cardiff, Pietersen had already begun the mind games.

In an interview with The Telegraph, Johnson has said: "[Pietersen was] hitting balls in our direction as we were warming up. I'd say it was deliberate, he was hitting balls in our direction as we were warming up to bowl and a few flew past us and we politely said: 'Can you just hit them in the other direction? Someone could roll their ankle before the Test.

"Whether it was polite enough, I don't know, but Kevin Pietersen definitely plays the game pretty well, the mental game, and decided to hit a few more balls in our direction. I kicked a tennis ball away in his direction, and the blow-up started from there.

This was the start of a long time rivalry, with Johnson going on to 'square up' to Pietersen as tension was raised before the Ashes kicked off.

This set the scene for Johnson to face Pietersen again in 2013 at the Gabba, with the duel that day becoming legendary. 

England's Kevin Pietersen  leaves the fi

Pietersen said of the face off: “On so many occasions in the past Johnson has always bit back… This time he didn’t say anything, and immediately I knew he was different.

"I would have preferred him to have said something, to engage with me, but he didn’t, and that’s when I knew the series could be tough.”

That series would go on to be Pietersen's last, with the intense duel being the last time the two would take to the Ashes field at the same time.

Both will be remembered as greats of the sport when the history books are written, and this will be in no small thanks to how their rivalry brought the best out of each other on cricket's biggest stage.

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Australia cricket
Kevin Pietersen
The Ashes
England cricket

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