Searing Australian paceman Mitchell Johnson Tuesday announced his retirement from all international cricket at the end of the ongoing Test against New Zealand, joining a host of fellow veterans who recently called it quits.
“I feel now is the best time to say goodbye,” the 34-year-old said in a statement ahead of the fifth day’s play at Perth’s WACA Ground.
“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.”
He follows Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin, Ryan Harris, Chris Rogers and Shane Watson into retirement, who all quit after the recent Ashes series against England.
Speculation had been rife about Johnson’s future ahead of the second Test against the Kiwis, with the bowler admitting last week that he thought about retirement “most days”.
On his adopted home ground which has been the scene of some of his most lethal spells during a 73-Test career, he returned dismal figures of 1-157 in the first innings against New Zealand.
His sole wicket moved the left-armer past Brett Lee and into fourth place on the all-time Test wickets list for Australia, with 311. He sits behind Dennis Lillee (355), Glenn McGrath (563) and Shane Warne (708).
“I’ve given the decision a lot of thought,” said Johnson, who emotionally told his teammates of his decision at the conclusion of play on the fourth day.
“Beyond this match, I’m just not sure that I can continue competing consistently at the level required to wear the baggy green.”
After making his first class debut with Queensland in 2001, Johnson got his start in the Test team in 2007. He later moved to Western Australia.
His best haul was 8-61 against South Africa, at the WACA Ground, in 2008.
Described by Australian great Lillee, who was his long-time mentor, as a “once in a generation” bowler, the former ICC Cricketer of the Year also claimed 239 wickets in 153 one-day internationals.
“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,” Johnson said.
At times his form was curtailed by injuries and his career had stalled until a stunning comeback in the 2013-14 summer, when he was recalled to the Australian side and tormented England with blistering pace to take 37 wickets at 13.97 as the home side completed a 5-0 clean series sweep.
Johnson also played 30 Twenty20 internationals and was a handy lower order batsman capable of clean striking, with a Test top score of 123 not out and 11 half-centuries.
“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,” said Cricket Australia chairman David Peever.
“He leaves the game as one of our all-time great bowlers.”