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Johnson pulls down curtains on playing career

Updated August 20, 2018

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PERTH: Australia fast bowler Mitchell Johnson, who struck fear into batsmen around the world but especially on the bouncy pitches of his homeland, has announced his retirement from cricket saying his body is ‘shutting down’ after years of punishment.

Johnson, 36, had hoped to continue playing in some international Twenty20 leagues but said the back problems he endured during this year’s Indian Premier League, while playing for Kolkata Knight Riders, had confirmed it was time to retire.

“It’s over. I’ve bowled my final ball, taken my final wicket,” Johnson said on Sunday. “Today I announce my retirement from all forms of cricket. My competitive urge hasn’t left me and hopefully that’s something I can use to channel into a coaching or mentoring role in the future.”

Johnson previously announced he wouldn’t play in Australia’s Twenty20 Big Bash League because the new schedule had become too demanding.

“When I sat down with new Perth Scorchers coach Adam Voges recently to discuss my future he was interested in me playing on again this summer,” he said. “If I can’t play at 100 per cent then I can’t give my best to the team. And for me it’s always been about the team.”

Johnson took 313 wickets in 73 Tests at an average of 28.40 and 239 wickets in 153 ODIs at 25.26. Under-rated as an all rounder, he also scored more than 2,000 Test runs at an average of 22 with a century and 11 half-centuries.

The left armer was the spearhead of the Australia pace attack for most of his career which stretched, punctuated by injuries, from 2007 to 2015. He brought all the skills of the top fast bowler.

His was a career of ups and downs but at his best he was unquestionably the most feared and successful bowler of his generation. His career had its peak in the 2013-14 season when, in eight Tests against England and South Africa, he took 59 wickets at an average of 15.23.

A mean bowler capable of conjuring menacing bounce and swing, Johnson struggled for consistency through much of his career but was a human wrecking ball in the 2013-14 whitewash of England, capturing 37 wickets in a legacy-defining series.

Johnson said he hopes to find a new role in coaching as cricket is the only thing he knows.

“I don’t know if I’ll be any good at it,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of experience in cricket and no experience in coaching officially...

“My competitive urge hasn’t left me and hopefully that’s something I can use to channel into a coaching or mentoring role in the future. I’m a believer in sticking to your strengths and cricket is my strength.

“Now it’s all over the stand-out memories include the 2013-14 Ashes summer, the South African tours, including my only Test century in Cape Town in 2009, and the World Cups.

“I saw more highs and lows than most cricketers and I’m proud that I was able to fight back from adversity in the latter part of my career and produce consistent performances.

“At my best I felt like I was meant to be out there and I didn’t have to force anything. It just happened.”

From the coastal Queensland city of Townsville, Johnson made his first class debut with the state in 2001 before getting his start in the Test team in 2007.

His best haul was 8-61 against South Africa, at the WACA in 2008. Described by long-time mentor Dennis Lillee as a ‘once in a generation’ bowler, he was adjudged ICC Cricketer of the Year.

Johnson joined the Perth Scorchers following his international retirement. In the IPL, he had stints with the Mumbai Indians, Kolkata Knight Riders, and Kings XI Punjab.

Published in Dawn, August 20th, 2018