Perth, Nov 17:
The curtains came down on the career of one of the best pacers to grace the game in recent years as Australia fast bowler Mitchell Johnson retired from all forms of international cricket at the end of the second Test against New Zealand here on Tuesday.
Johnson, the country’s fourth highest Test wicket-taker, informed his teammates of his decision on Monday night, saying that after 73 Tests he felt it was the right time to walk away from the game.
“I feel now is the best time to say goodbye,” Johnson said in a Cricket Australia (CA) statement.
“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,” the left-armer added.
“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.”
Johnson dismissed New Zealand openers Tom Latham and Martin Guptill on the final day to finish his career with 313 Test wickets. The 34-year-old sits behind only Dennis Lillee (355), Glenn McGrath (563) and Shane Warne (708) on the list of Australia’s greatest wicket-takers.
He was the key figure in Australia’s 5-0 Ashes sweep in 2013-14, claiming a staggering 37 wickets across the five Tests and leaving an indelible mark with his pace and intimidation.
Johnson was also a useful lower order batsman, scoring 11 half-centuries and one century to amass a career haul of 2,065 runs.
He was given a guard of honour by the New Zealand fielders and an ovation from the crowd as he emerged for his last Test innings shortly before lunch on the final day.
“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 is something I will treasure forever,” Johnson said.
“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.”
Indian batting legend Sachin Tendulkar was among several current and former cricketers who heaped praise on the Australian pace spearhead.
Tendulkar, who played alongside Johnson during the pacer’s stint with Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League (IPL), termed the bowler as someone special.
“Good luck to Johnson who has always been a special bowler. Got to know him well at Mumbai Indians and enjoyed his aggressive approach!” Tendulkar tweeted.
South Africa one-day captain AB de Villiers tweeted: “Incredible athlete! Congrats on a magnificent career Johnson.”
Apart from Tendulkar and de Villiers, several of Johnson’s former Australian teammates including Brett Lee, Ryan Harris, all-rounder Shane Watson and ex-captain Michael Clarke also lauded the pacer’s achievements.
“Brings tears to my eyes to think that I won’t play again with my great mate Johnson. Great team man, great friend and cricket legend,” Australia all-rounder Shane Watson tweeted.
Brett Lee said: “A massive congratulations to Johnson on a wonderful career. It was incredible to play in the same team as you. Well done mate. Happy retirement! #legend…”
Johnson’s retirement is the latest in a sequence of six exits from the Australian team around their unsuccessful defence of the Ashes in England earlier this year.
Harris, Michael Clarke, Chris Rogers, Watson and Brad Haddin all departed the stage before the home summer, and Johnson had admitted to thinking about joining them, only committing fully to playing a few weeks before the season began. (IANS)