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AUSTRALIA V NEW ZEALAND TESTS

Mitchell Johnson pulls up stumps

17 November 2015

Paceman to retire from all international cricket at the end of the WACA Test

The decision that has been crowding Mitchell Johnson’s thinking over recent months has finally crystallised and he will end his international cricket career at the close of play in Perth later today.

Johnson has confirmed that he will retire from all cricket immediately the second Test against New Zealand comes to a close at the WACA, and will not see out the current series against the Black Caps or the remainder of the Australia summer.

Quick Single: Johnson's top eight performances

He leaves the game as Australia’s fourth-highest Test wicket taker with a current tally of 311 in his 73rd Tests, but more significantly remembered as a mercurial talent who came to embody a re-born Australian team that swept to a five-nil Ashes triumph two summers ago.

WATCH: Johnson's 37 wickets in the 2013-14 Ashes

Johnson then took that rampaging form into a three-Test series against South Africa and addition to capturing a remarkable 59 wickets at an average of 15.23 over that period, he terrorised batsmen with his speed and aggression and was awarded the Allan Border Medal in 2014 as Australia’s most brilliant cricketer.

He was also named the International Cricket Council’s Test Player of the Year after those exploits, to add to the ICC Player of the Year honour he received in 2009.

Only Dennis Lillee (355), Glenn McGrath (563) and Shane Warne (708) have taken more Test wickets than Johnson who is the only player among that quartet to also have notched a Test century with the bat.

Johnson joins the 300 club in fine style

But Johnson also experienced some deep lows, most notably his loss of form during the 2010 Ashes series in England that saw him pilloried by English crowds and had him question his hunger for the game, and a serious foot injury in 2011 that forced him out of the game for a year.

He used that time to regain his fitness and reignite his passion and returned in the second phase of his career as one of the most dominant, exciting players in the world.

Johnson was a force to be reckoned with during the 2013-14 Ashes // Getty Images

The 34-year-old conceded in the lead-up to the current Test that he pondered retirement “most days” and those thoughts undoubtedly became more pressing as he laboured through a fruitless first innings on a WACA pitch that was once his greatest ally.

It appears that any doubts Johnson might have felt about extending his career through to summer’s end in pursuit of the Test wicket benchmark of 355 set by his close friend and mentor Lillee were removed when he recorded forgettable figures of 1-157 in NZ’s first innings.

He has also opted to finish his international career, which included 153 one-day internationals and 30 T20 appearances for his country, at the WACA which became his adopted home ground after shifting from his native Queensland in 2007.

Allan Border Medal winner: Johnson // Getty Images

Which means he will not take part in the historic day-night Test match against the Black Caps in Adelaide on November 27, having already indicated his misgivings about the pink ball to be used in that match and the shift away from the traditions of Test cricket that he valued highly.

"I feel now is the best time to say goodbye,” Johnson said in a statement released shortly before play resumed at the WACA where Australia holds a lead of 193 with a declaration expected later in the day.

Quick Single: Mitchell Johnson's career timeline

"I have been lucky enough to have had a wonderful career and enjoyed every moment of playing for my country. It’s been an incredible ride.

"But the ride has to come to an end at some point and to do so here at the WACA is very special.

"I’ve given the decision a lot of thought. Beyond this match, I’m just not sure that I can continue competing consistently at the level required to wear the Baggy Green (Cap).

Johnson's thunderbolts from the 2013 Gabba Test

"My career has certainly had its up and downs but I can honestly say I have given it my all and am proud of everything I have achieved.

"To win an Ashes Series and a Cricket World Cup (earlier this year) is something I will treasure forever.

"My family have been by my side throughout and I could not have achieved all I have without their support.

"They have made a lot of sacrifices, especially my beautiful wife Jess who has provided me with unconditional support, and I am incredibly grateful for that.

"They say the greatest thing about playing sport is the friends you make along the way and I have been fortunate enough to play and work with some incredible people and have cemented lifelong friendships.

Quick Single: McDermott says the baton has been passed

"I would certainly like to thank the people of Australia, and all those around the world, who have supported me.

"The encouragement I have received has been extremely humbling and playing in front of them is certainly something I will miss."

Johnson with the World Cup at the MCG // Getty Images

Recently appointed Cricket Australia Chairman David Peever paid tribute to Johnson, who debuted for Australia a decade ago in an ODI in New Zealand and played his first Test at the Gabba two years later.

"Dennis Lillee was certainly right many years ago when he identified a young Mitchell Johnson as a future great of Australian cricket,” Peever said, citing Lillee’s observation when he first saw Johnson bowl as a teenager in Queensland.

"In many ways the sight of Mitchell as a moustached tearaway conjured memories of Lillee at his peak, not just in appearance, but for some of the most devastating fast bowling ever produced by an Australian.

Queensland days: Mitchell Johnson // Getty Images

"There have been countless highlights, but no one will ever forget his incredible performance in the 2013-14 Ashes when he took that series by storm, only to repeat those efforts soon after in the history-making win over South Africa in South Africa.

"I am sure there are many batsmen around the world breathing a sigh of relief right now, knowing that they no longer have to face him.

"He leaves the game as one of our all-time great bowlers and as an excellent example to young Australians about what they can achieve through hard work and dedication to their chosen craft.

"We thank Mitchell for his outstanding service to the game and wish him, wife Jessica and daughter Rubika the very best for life beyond cricket.”

Johnson’s announcement is likely to overshadow the final day of play at the WACA which is also the ground where his ex-teammate and former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting bowed out of the game in 2012.

Johnson in action against Bangladesh in 2006 // Getty Images

Western Australia coach and former Test batsman Justin Langer and WACA Chief Executive Christina Matthews added their tributes to a list that will grow significantly longer by day’s end.

"Mitch’s career has been a wonderful example of what is required to endure the rigours of a life of professional cricket,” Langer said.

"He was injury-ravaged early, written off, criticized and probably wondered whether he would ever make it.

"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.

"As an athlete, he is peerless and few could bowl as fast.

"Above all that, it would be hard to meet a nicer bloke. Inside the tough exterior is an outstanding young man, who has been a credit to his family and the Australian cricket family."


Matthews added: “Mitch Johnson has been an outstanding ambassador for WA and Australian cricket and will be a huge loss for the game both on and off the field.

“A favourite with boys and girls across the state, Mitch has been one of those players who has been an inspiration to young players at clinics and school visits and been a large part of the growth of the game with Australia having the highest participation rates of any sport.”

MITCHELL JOHNSON'S MAGNIFICENT NUMBERS

  • 311 wickets from 73 Tests at an average of 28.10
  • 239 wickets from 153 ODIs at an average of 25.26
  • 38 wickets from 30 T20Is at an average of 20.97
  • 12-127 - his career-best Test match figures recorded in Australia's win over South Africa in Centurion in 2014
  • 8-61 - his career-best Test innings figures recorded in Australia's loss to South Africa in Perth in 2008
  • 6-31 - his career-best ODI figures recorded in Australia's win over Sri Lanka in Kandy in 2011
  • 2 - Sir Garfield Sobers trophies, awarded to the ICC Cricketer of the Year in 2009 and 2014
  • 2 - World Cup titles. He didn't play a game in Australia's undefeated 2007 campaign but was part of the squad
  • 37 - Johnson's stunning haul in the 2013-14 Ashes. It was five short of breaking the record for most scalps in an Ashes series, a feat of 41 that Rodney Hogg achieved in six Tests.
  • 156.8 - kilometres per hour, the fastest speed his bowling was clocked at. It came in the 2013 Boxing Day Test against England.

About the Writer

 @ARamseyCricket
@ARamseyCricket

Andrew Ramsey is the senior writer for cricket.com.au. He previously wrote for the Guardian, The Australian, The Times, The Telegraph, The Hindu and Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack and the author of The Wrong Line.

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