Image courtesy of: Zimbio
Australia left-arm pace bowler Mitchell Johnson has revealed that he nearly joined Michael Clarke, Chris Rogers, Shane Watson, Brad Haddin and Ryan Harris into retirement following a gruelling Ashes series against England.
Johnson was unable to produce the same performance he did during the 2013-14 Ashes series, in which he took 37 wickets at an average of 13.97. But, after watching England regain the Ashes following a 3-2 series win, Johnson pondered whether he should hang up his boots.
But, fast forward six weeks later and Johnson seems to have rekindled his love for the game as he has a thirst to train, compete and bowl as fast as possible.
“It definitely has crossed my mind, especially with the guys retiring,” Johnson told reporters at Australia’s training camp in Hurstville. “A lot of those guys I played a lot of cricket with [have moved on] and it definitely makes you question yourself. I definitely have questioned myself in the six weeks I’ve been home, but I had that desire when I saw the young guys out there performing and it really urged me and pushed me to get out there and play. I actually went for a run and was pushing myself.
“Brett Lee changed it a little bit because he played for a while longer. Speaking to some other people like Dennis, he seems to think I can go for a few more years as well. It depends on the individual to be honest, I had that year out of the game really with my toe injury, I was a late starter to the game. So I think it’s more mind than anything, my body’s still holding up pretty well.
“I’ve had little niggles here and there but i’m able to get through them. It’s more mind. I’m really looking forward to the summer, getting back on fair wickets with a bit of pace and bounce, good for batting and for bowling. I’d love to get a few wickets and get that tally back up again.”
During the recent Ashes series, Johnson conceded that he felt more mentally drained than physically as he was constantly hounded by the English fans, while his bowling was not up to the mark as he only claimed 15 wickets at an average of 34.93.
“I was definitely worn down physically but I think I can always manage physically though,” Johnson said. “It’s more mentally that I felt myself really drained even through the England tour at times. Constantly getting hammered by the crowds does take its toll, but also the long year we’ve had with the World Cup. It was a huge build-up, to win that and then I went to IPL and played there. Was pretty flat throughout that, and then got to the West Indies and started to pick up a bit.
“The Ashes always takes it out of you anyway, it’s such a huge occasion, and was definitely great to get back home after that. I personally think if I’d played that one-day series there was a chance of burnout or injury, that’s how I felt within myself. That’s why I missed that one-day series, getting fresh to be ready for a big summer and hopefully be in really good form and play really good cricket.
“I know New Zealand are going to be a tough opposition, then we’ve got a few Test matches after that against West Indies then over to New Zealand. So it’s a really hectic time, but the little break I’ve had has definitely freshened me up and I’m ready to go.”
Johnson also confirmed that he will be speaking to head coach Darren Lehmann and captain Steven Smith about letting him bowl short spells during the upcoming series against New Zealand so that he can be aggressive and keep clocking deliveries in the 140km/h region on a more consistent basis.
“I spoke to Boof about it, it’s something I thought about,” Johnson said. “I think it works best if I bowl short spells and I can bowl that high 140s or mid 140s, then I think that’s the plan we should go with. I’m going to sit down and speak with Boof and Smithy about that and see what they think.
“But I’ve always got a plan B and I think I learned that a lot more over in England to have a plan B, just try to use the ball a bit more in certain conditions. You can’t always blast teams out but when that time’s right I’m definitely still putting my hand up for that role.”