Feared Aus­tralian pace­man John­son lost the hunger

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

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

Mitchell John­son

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

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