Johnson's form a worry for Australia

LONDON: Australia will look to boost the flagging confidence of Mitchell Johnson after the fast bowler's loss of form during the team's 115-run second Test loss here at Lord's.

England's first Ashes win 'at the home of cricket' in 75 years was aided by lacklustre left-arm quick Johnson, billed as the spearhead of Australia's attack after impressing during this year's series win in South Africa.

But there were times at Lord's when he struggled to land the ball on the cut strip and, despite switching from over the wicket to round and back again, little went right for the 27-year-old paceman.

Johnson took just three wickets in the match for 200 runs in 38.4 overs, figures that included a second innings return of none for 68 in 17.

"(Bowling coach) Troy (Cooley) is obviously working really closely with him," Ponting told reporters at Lord's here on Monday after England had gone 1-0 up in the series with three to play.

"What you don't want to do with young-ish blokes - Mitch has only played 20-odd Tests and is still pretty new to the game and pretty new to fast bowling - is to fill their heads full of too much and have him thinking of too many things all the time."

Australia have a three-day tour match against Northamptonshire starting on Friday before the third Test gets underway at Edgbaston on July 30.

Brett Lee, yet to feature so far in this series because of a rib injury, is still struggling for fitness and that leaves the reliable Stuart Clark as the leading candidate to replace Johnson should Australia decide to make a change.

On-tour selector Jamie Cox is set to scrutinise Johnson's performance closely if, as seems likely, the bowler is given the chance to find some form in Northampton.

"We have to be careful of the way we manage him over the next little bit," Ponting said of Johnson, who first showed signs of struggling for accuracy in the closing stages of the first Test in Cardiff, where England salvaged a draw with just one wicket standing.

"He's up for the challenge. He's continually trying to make himself better in all aspects of his game.

"Hopefully we see some improvement from him in Northampton, if he does happen to play that game. It would be great to see him get a bit more confidence and a bit more rhythm than he's got at the moment."

But Ponting said it was much too soon to talk about dropping Johnson, who made a valiant 63 before he was last man out at Lord's.

"Of course I can see him playing (at Edgbaston). It was only a couple of games ago that he was bowling as well as anyone going around ... It's not as if he's lost everything he's ever had."

And Ponting said what was true of Johnson was true of the team as a whole.

"I don't think there'll be drastic changes to our set-up. It was only a week ago we dominated the Test match as well. We shouldn't forget that."