Mitchell Johnson’s electric Ashes summer has been recognised by the Sports Australia Hall of Fame with the left-arm tearaway shortlisted for the coveted ‘The Don’ Award.
The annual award is presented to the athlete who has most inspired the nation during the past 12 months, with Johnson’s 37 Ashes wickets in a Man of the Series performance earning him a nomination along with six other Australian athletes including tennis star Nick Kyrgios, Formula One driver Daniel Riccardio and 2012 Don Award winner Sally Pearson.
Pearson, who won the award following her gold medal performance in the London 2012 Olympics, said: "Don Bradman symbolised everything that was wonderful in sport. The Award in his name marks a pinnacle in an athlete's career. To be nominated is a wonderful honour."
Johnson returned to the Australian Test team after a long-term injury lay-off to destroy the English last summer, winning three out of five man-of-the-match awards and taking out the 2013 Allan Border Medal as Australia’s premier cricketer over the past year.
Speaking to cricket.com.au, Johnson said he was surprised and honoured to be shortlisted with some of Australia's most successful athletes.
"Looking at the list of nominations on there; Daniel Riccardo, Sally Pearson, Patty Mills – there’s some high class athletes on there and to have my name thrown up there with those guys it feels very special," Johnson said.
"It’s a great honour to be nominated and it’s a great achievement on its own just to have that nomination.
"All you’re trying to do is the best you can on the field for yourself but also for the team.
"If you’re at your best you’re going to play best for the team.
"My main focus is to do the best job that I can for Australia, have fun while doing it, and to get those achievements on the way it’s a great feeling to have those there.
"It’s pretty enjoyably going out there and playing good cricket and doing it well for the team but also for the fans and the supporters that do support us."
The last time a cricketer won the prestigious award was in 2007 when Australia’s most prolific bowling combination, Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath, were jointly honoured for their contribution to the 5-0 Ashes whitewash in 2006-07, their last series in the Baggy Green. Former Australia captain Mark Taylor also won the award in 1998.
"They’re some pretty big names in world cricket," Johnson said when told of Warne and McGrath's win seven years ago.
"Just to have the nomination is very special to me. If it does come off and I’m selected I’d be very proud of that moment, and to be (mentioned) along the lines of those types of guys - to me I’ll never be near those guys.
"To have that award would be very special."
Two cricketers have been awarded the highest honour in the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, with Bradman and Keith Miller elevated to “Legend” status, bestowed to those who have distinguished themselves at the highest level and in doing so have offered inspiration and example to Australia.
The Sport Australia Hall of Fame was established in 1985, and continues to promote the values and rich history of Australian sport.
The 30th Sport Australia Hall of Fame Annual Induction and Awards Gala Dinner will be hosted at the Crown Palladium in Melbourne on October 9.