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November 18, 2015

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Australia paceman Johnson retires

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 in Perth yesterday.

Johnson said he finalized 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, the 34-year-old said while his body was sore, 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.”

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 teammate Phillip Hughes had also weighed heavily on him for some time.

Johnson said it had been an “honor 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 terrorize 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. I would have had regrets if I didn’t come back from there and I really enjoyed that challenge.”

He said his most satisfying spell was against England in Adelaide in 2013, when he claimed five wickets in quick succession.

Johnson, who was named International Cricket Council Player of the Year in 2009 and 2014, said he was very proud to finish in fourth position on the all-time wicket-taker list for Australia, with 313 scalps at just over 28 apiece.

He said long-time mentor Dennis Lillee had counselled him to adjust his bowling style to continue his career for several more years, but he only wanted to keep playing if he could bowl at express pace.

The Townsville product noted his first test was played in his native Queensland, while his final one was in his adopted home state.

After making his first class debut with Queensland in 2001, Johnson got his start in the test team in 2007 before moving to Western Australia. His best haul was 8-61 against South Africa, at the WACA in 2008.

Described by Lillee as a “once in a generation” bowler, the left-arm fast bowler also claimed 239 wickets in 153 one-day internationals.

“He was injury-ravaged early, written off, criticized and probably wondered whether he would ever make it,” said former test opener and Western Australia’s head coach Justin Langer. “This in mind, it is a testament to his courage, resilience and skill that he retires as one of Australia’s greatest ever fast bowlers.”


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