Image courtesy of: Times of India
Johnston was renowned for his ‘chicken dance’ celebration
Irish eyes will not be smiling and the luck of the Irish will plummet significantly after veteran all-rounder Trent Johnston announced that he will retire from international cricket at the end of the year.
Johnston will represent Ireland during the World Twenty20 qualifiers in the United Arab Emirates in November and will end his career after the International Cricket Council (ICC) Intercontinental Cup final in Dubai in early December.
“It’s been a difficult decision and I’ve racked my brains ever since I came back from the UAE tour in March”, Johnston said. “It’s becoming harder to recover after matches now, so much so that I can hardly walk for a couple of days.”
The 39-year-old revealed that his children, Charlie, 10 and Claudia, 13, had to help him take off his socks after the tour in March.
“I knew then my time was limited and although it would have been great to play in another World Cup in Australia, it was just beyond me,” he said. “It’s time to move on to new things and give Phil Simmons a chance to find somebody to replace me.”
Johnston’s announcement comes just after Ireland qualified for the 2015 World Cup.
“I’d set myself personal goals at the start of the year and I’ve been slowly ticking those boxes as we go along,” he added. “I always knew we were going to qualify for the 2015 World Cup with the squad we have, and the standard we’ve been playing at for a few years now. I’ve achieved a lot in my career and I’m pretty happy with how it’s all went.”
Johnston has represented Ireland in 186 matches, including 65 ODIs, 28 Twenty20 Internationals and 27 first-class games.
His 264 wickets puts him at third on Ireland’s all-time list and his 60 games as captain is second on Ireland’s all-time list, with his successor William Porterfield holding on to first place.
Johnston will also forever be remembered for leading Ireland during their maiden World Cup voyage in 2007 and beating Pakistan to qualify for the Super Eights.
“I was incredibly proud to wear the shamrock and to lead your country 60 times including a World Cup was just massive for me”, he said. “That first World Cup put Irish cricket on the map and it has kick-started the cricketing expansion that we’re witnessing now. It was a privilege to be part of that.”
The 39-year-old also thanked everyone, from Cricket Ireland to the fans for all the support they have shown him over the years.
“The back-up I’ve got from Cricket Ireland, and my friends and sponsors Philip Smith and Patrick Nally of RSA, has given me a chance to play on long after I expected,” he said.
Johnston is now looking to get involved in coaching and has already raised eyebrows at Leinster Lightning, who have dominated Ireland’s regional tournaments.
“The Lighting has been a great experience for me, and a big step up from coaching clubs in an amateur set-up”, he told ESPNcricinfo. “Because funds are tight I’ve had to do a lot more and take more responsibility. You’re involved in selection, media work, and organising training sessions and game plans so it has brought a new dimension which is really interesting.
“Towards the end of my Ireland career Simmo gave me extra responsibility in preparing the bowling department and working with the guys there, which was good experience, and I also went to the Women’s World Cup qualifier in 2011 as Jeremy Bray’s assistant.”
As of right now, Cricket Ireland are unable to hire Johnston, but the board noted that with some funding from the ICC, the impossible may become possible.
“Warren Deutrom has been honest with me, but I don’t really know if I can stay in Ireland to progress my coaching career,” Johnston said. “It would be great to pick up a job as an assistant or bowling coach and continue to learn the trade. But I know to do that I’d have to travel, which would present challenges. That’s something we’ll deal with if it arises. Hopefully there will be offers and it’s my main priority now to get something nailed down for after December.”
Current captain William Porterfield noted that Johnston’s experience would be missed and so too would the ‘chicken dance’ he did after every wicket as well.
“It’s pretty hard to sum up the impact that TJ has had on Irish cricket and what he has achieved,” Porterfield said. “He has brought so much to the squad both on and off the field, leading by example not only with the new ball, but in showing what it means to pull on the Irish jersey by his work ethic off the pitch. I look forward to enjoying the rest of the season with him and sending him out on a high in the Intercontinental Cup final in December.”
Ireland coach Phil Simmons acknowledged that Johnston’s departure would leave a huge hole in the team’s line-up.
“Trent has been one of the pillars of this team,” Simmons said. “He’s been incredibly consistent and gotten vital wickets at crucial times spearheading the bowling unit. His experience has been invaluable, his dedication and work ethic has been exceptional.”