Feared Australian paceman Johnson lost the hunger
PERTH: Retiring Australian fast bowler Mitchell Johnson said he simply lost the hunger to play Test cricket. The 34-year-old announced his immediate retirement from international cricket before the final day’s play against New Zealand at the WACA Ground yesterday.
Johnson said he finalised the decision in the first innings in Perth, when he returned figures of 1-157. Renowned for his express pace, ferocious bounce and capacity to intimidate, Johnson said it was the mental aspect of Test cricket that prompted the decision.
“I just lost that hunger in the end to play on those tough days,” he said. “That was something I used to really enjoy about Test cricket was those challenges of those difficult days out there, but I just wasn’t enjoying it. “I felt I couldn’t compete at this level any more - on those tough days I didn’t want to be there.
“It was a little bit physical, but it was more the mental side of things, I had just had enough.” Johnson said it was a decision which had been on his mind for around 12 months, and especially since Australia’s World Cup win. He said the death of team-mate Phillip Hughes had also weighed heavily on him for some time.
Johnson said it had been an “honour and privilege” to play for Australia and said the most satisfying period of his career was in 2013-14, when he returned from an injury layoff to terrorise batsmen from England and South Africa. He was recalled to the Australian side and tormented England with blistering pace to take 37 wickets at 13.97 as the home side completed a 5-0 clean Ashes series sweep.
“That was definitely a huge moment in my career,” he said. “I would have had regrets if I didn’t come back from there and I really
enjoyed that challenge. “I felt like I hadn’t given my best and had a lot to give and that couple of years were really exciting for me.
“I became more confident in my ability and was really happy with my action.” He said his most satisfying spell was against England in Adelaide in 2013, when he claimed five wickets in quick succession. Johnson finished in fourth position on the all-time wicket-taker list for Australia, with 313 scalps at just over 28 apiece.
He finished his career in trademark style, with his last Test scalp coming from a rising delivery which Kiwi opener Martin Guptill was only able to fend to Joe Burns at short leg.
Johnson’s best haul was 8-61 against South Africa, at the WACA in 2008. Described by longtime mentor Dennis Lillee as a “once in a generation” bowler, the former ICC Cricketer of the Year also claimed 239 wickets in 153 one-day internationals.
‘Changing of the guard’
Australia’s fast bowling coach Craig McDermott said Johnson all but handed over the baton as a spearhead of the attack during the third and fourth days’ play at the WACA. While Johnson struggled, Mitchell Starc picked up four wickets in New Zealand’s first innings and on the third day sent down a 160.4 kilometre per hour (99.7 miles per hour) thunderbolt believed to be the fastest ever delivery bowled in Test cricket.
“We probably saw the changing of the guard here two days ago, with Mitchell Starc consistently bowling 150 kilometres an hour,” McDermott said. Johnson also played 30 Twenty20 internationals and was a handy lower order batsman, with a Test top score of 123 not out and 11 half-centuries. Former Test cricketers from around the world took to Twitter to praise Johnson.
“All the England lads will be celebrating they won’t have to face @MitchJohnson398 again in Australia.... Great career & a Great man,” wrote England’s former captain Michael Vaughan.
“Good luck to @MitchJohnson398 who has always been a special bowler. Got to know him well at @mipaltan and enjoyed his aggressive approach!” tweeted India’s Sachin Tendulkar.
“What an athlete! One of the best I ever played with,” wrote former Australian captain Michael Clarke. — AFP