Image courtesy of: Zimbio
Australia left-arm seamer Mitchell Johnson has admitted that the death of his team-mate and close friend Phillip Hughes in November 2014 led to his pace decreasing and a change in his mental approach while bowling.
Hughes tragically passed away when he was struck by a bouncer while playing a Sheffield Shield game for South Australia.
Many of the Australian players, especially captain Michael Clarke who had considered Hughes as his little brother, were emotionally affected by Hughes’ death.
Johnson meanwhile conceded that he had a tough time trying to “get through” it all.
Johnson had been unstoppable during the last Ashes series in 2013-14 as he claimed 37 wickets at an average of 13.92 to help Australia whitewash England 5-0. But, after Hughes’ death, the 33-year-old looked a shadow of his former self as he took 13 wickets at an average of 35.46 during the home series against India at the end of last year.
“I’m not someone who makes excuses, but we went through a bit of a time just before that with Phillip Hughes and that was something very difficult, and it was really hard to sort of deal with it at times,” Johnson told ABC. “We were definitely underprepared at that time and my pace was definitely off. “I probably wasn’t fully right, fully mentally right, there at that time, so I just got through.”
But, with Johnson seemingly having regained his pace and reignited the fire in his belly, he is determined to steal the spotlight once again during the upcoming Ashes series, which starts on July 8 in Cardiff.
However, Johnson isn’t the only lethal pace bowler Australia have as Ryan Harris, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc have all proved their worth as well.
“It is healthy competition and something I remember when I first came into the team,” he said. “You sort of get taught that when you first come in; you’ve got to bowl well in the nets, you’re playing for a spot.
“Every game that I’ve been playing I’m sort of taking it as though it is my last game, and just going out there and enjoying it. “I don’t think I have anything to prove, and if I put that pressure on myself it is not going to work in my favour.”