When Johnson attended a fast-bowling clinic in Brisbane at age 17, former Test fast-bowler Dennis Lillee identified him as a "once-in-nine-lives prospect". Lillee contacted former team mate Rod Marsh and arranged for Johnson to join the Australian Cricket Academy in Adelaide.
Johnson fields in a tour match against Northamptonshire during the 2009 Ashes
Johnson subsequently played for the Australian Under-19 side that toured England in 1999, however recurrent back injuries hampered his prospects. He recovered to start his first-class career two years later, when he was selected to play state cricket for his native Queensland. Playing for Queensland against New Zealand, Johnson hit a six off the first ball he faced in first-class cricket. In September 2005, he was in the Australia A cricket team that toured Pakistan.he generally bowls the sling action and has capability to bowl in excess of 150kph, his fastest being 156.7kph in Melbourne in ashes 2013
Johnson was chosen to be in the squad for the first Ashes Test beginning on 23 November 2006, but was 12th man in all of the games. On 10 November 2007, while making his Australian Test match debut against Sri Lanka at his home ground in Brisbane, Johnson took his first wicket, that of Thilan Samaraweera, caught by Adam Gilchrist. Johnson went on to take 4/96.
On 19 January 2008, Johnson scored his first ever Test half-century, against India in Perth, having been both dropped and bowled off a no ball, although Australia ended up losing the match.
On the second day of the First Test against South Africa in Perth on 18 December 2008 Johnson took seven wickets for just 12 runs, including five wickets for two runs near the close, to reduce the tourists from 3/234 to 8/443. He ended with 5/141 the next day. Later in the series he made 64 batting with Michael Clarke.
The 2009 tour to South Africa saw an important development in Johnson's armoury, the ability to consistently swing the ball into the right-hander, which he previously had struggled to achieve. During the First Test, on 27 February 2009, Johnson scored 96 not out, to help Australia post 466 all out. This included one over in which he scored 26 runs off the bowling of Paul Harris, hitting two fours and three sixes, the last of which carried out of the stadium and broke the record for the most runs in an over for Australia in a Test match. He also took eight wickets with the ball.
In the Second Test, he unleashed a fiery spell of fast bowling that gained him two wickets in his first over, and three in his first spell, as well as sending both Jacques Kallis and Graeme Smith off, retired hurt. After this, notable cricket commentator Peter Roebuck described him as the best fast bowler in the world.
In the Third Test, with Australia almost defeated, he struck 123 not out, reaching triple figures in only 66 balls. With tail-ender Bryce McGain for company, Johnson decided to take on the bowling and struck Dale Steyn for six to reach his century. Although Australia went on to lose the Test match by an innings, Johnson was named man of the series, with 16 wickets and over 250 runs in 3 matches.
During the 2009 Ashes tour he was criticised for his poor bowling and his lack of control. Johnson's position as spearhead of the Australian seam-attack was called into question, with match figures of 3/200 in the second Test at Lords and his demotion to first-change bowler in Australia's tour game against Northamptonshire. In the match against Northamptonshire, he returned 7/67 from 18.1 overs as Australia won by 135 runs. Despite his poor form he was selected for the third Test. Johnson consequently re-discovered some form in the fourth test taking 5/69 in the second-innings.
Mitchell Johnson bowling in the nets in January 2009
Johnson appeared to get back to his best towards the end of 2009, earning praise from captain Ricky Ponting during the summer series against both West Indies and Pakistan. He finished the year as the worlds top wicket taker (63), and also became the first Australian to take 30 wickets and score 300 runs in a calendar year.
In the 2010–11 Ashes series Johnson took more wickets than any other Australian with 15 (36.93) even though he played only 4 Tests. In the First Test at the Gabba he was hit for 3/130 in the match and was so out of form that he was dropped. Returning for the Third Test at the WACA he hit 62, took 6/38 and 4/44 was instrumental in Australia's 267 run victory. However, his wayward bowling returned and Johnson became the subject of a chanting by the Barmy Army whenever he bowled; He bowls to the left, He bowls to the right, That Mitchell Johnson, His bowling is shite. In the Fifth Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground England fans sang this as he walked to the crease and he made a first ball duck as England won by an innings to retain the Ashes. In July 2012, he admitted the jibes he’d received from England fans during successive Ashes series defeats had dented his confidence. He has also, however, considered the choice to target him as a compliment. Ever since his overall poor Ashes series, Mitchell Johnson claimed a spot in the South African series. He did not fare well in that series either, without picking up a 4 or 5 wicket haul, leaking many runs, and not contributing heavily with the bat. He picked up a toe injury, escaping being dropped. He did find himself, later that year, in the 3rd Test at Perth against South Africa. He bowled exquisitely, picking up the prized wicket of Hashim Amla and finishing with a four wicket haul. He also gained a place, in the Test series against Sri Lanka. Although he didn't play in the 1st Test, he was the man of the match in the 2nd claiming match figures of 4–79 as well as playing a brilliant 92 not out. He also played in the 3rd Test as an all-rounder due to Shane Watson's injury. He had a poor first innings with the ball and bat. With figures of 1–118 and only making 13, despite a fierce spell to Lahiru Thirimanne which, unfortunately, didn't claim any wickets. He did bowl well in the second innings, claiming the prized wicket of Dilshan and Thirimanne.
Before the 3rd Test against India in March 2013, Australia dropped Mitchell Johnson, along with James Pattinson, Shane Watson and Usman Khawaja following a breach of discipline. Michael Clarke, the captain, revealed that the extreme step had been taken as a result of repeated infractions which led to Watson flying back home and contemplating Test retirement. Former players reacted with astonishment at the harsh decision taken by the team management.
After a year away from international cricket, including being dropped for the mid-season Ashes tour of England, Johnson returned to the Australia team sheet for the return Ashes series in Australia. In the first innings of the first Test, after Australia ended with 295 all out (Johnson himself contributing 64), England were put under pressure by Johnson's intimidatingly quick and thunderously aggressive bowling style. After claiming the wicket of Jonathan Trott just before lunch on the second day, he then dismissed Michael Carberry, Joe Root and Graeme Swann in successive overs, engineering a dramatic English collapse from 2/82 to 136 all out. He backed up his 4–61 in the first innings with 5–42 in the second to seal a crushing victory.
In the next Test at Adelaide, Johnson produced arguably his best ever bowling performance, hurling down 150 km/h thunderbolts on a flat pitch. After Australia scored 9/570, England were steady at 3/136 at lunch on the third day before Johnson again tore through their lineup, this time taking five wickets in three overs and finishing with 7–40 as England made only 172, as Australia won the match by 218 runs. During this match Johnson entered the top ten Australian wicket takers in Test cricket. Johnson continued his exceptional form throughout the series, finding the consistency he had previously lacked, and taking 37 wickets in the five-match series, which Australia won 5–0. He was named Man of the Series, having been Man of the Match in 3 of the 5 matches (the 1st,2nd and 4th Tests).
In his latest series against South Africa, he troubled the batsmen with his bowling as he took 7 wickets in the first innings and 5 wickets in second innings to give Australia an emphatic win by 281 runs.
In December 2005, Johnson was selected for the Australian One Day International team, making his debut against New Zealand in Christchurch, with chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns justifying his selection on the grounds of grooming players for the future.
Johnson gave the first signs of his potential at international level against the strong Indian batting line-up in a One Day International in Malaysia, Johnson's 7th. He took 4/11 off just 4 overs, including the wickets of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh. Johnson then played in the Australian 2006 ICC Champions Trophy team, and in the group A match against England he took 3/40, including Kevin Pietersen. On 26 January 2007, Johnson took 4 wickets in 8 balls during the seventh match of the CB Series against England, for which he earned Man of the Match honours. In October 2007 Johnson helped Australia seal the ODI series in India. He finished as the top wicket-taker with 14 wickets, which showed his abilities, even on the slow pitches of the sub-continent. In the fifth ODI at Vadodara he took 5/26, his first international five wicket haul.
Australia came into the Champions Trophy ranked second in ODIs; along with being the event's reigning champions. They opened their campaign against an undermanned West Indian outfit who were without prominent players because of an industrial dispute. After being put into bat, Australia fell to 7/172 after 40 overs, before finishing on 8/275 in 50 overs as the pitch flattened out. Johnson scored a career best 73 not out, as Australia scored 69 runs from their batting Powerplay (between overs 44 and 49). In an innings which produced "fierce, clean hitting", Johnson struck three sixes and eight fours in his quick-fire 47 ball innings. Although Johnson went wicketless in the West Indian innings, he secured the man of the match award as Australia won by 50 runs.