Australian pacer Mitchell Johnson on Tuesday announced his retirement from all forms of international cricket at the end of the ongoing second Test match against New Zealand in Perth, 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.”
Johnson follows compatriots 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 Johnson’s adopted home ground of the WACA, known to be one of the greatest venues in the world for pacers to bowl on and 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 wicket-takers 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, also 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.
Several cricketers, current and former, as well as Australia’s cricket governing body, Cricket Australia, took to Twitter to pay tribute to the left-arm pacer on his career.
Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar, fresh off his recent three-match stint in the US during the Cricket All Stars T20, paid tribute to his former Mumbai Indians IPL teammate.
So did a host of Johnson’s former Australia teammates and players.
Brings tears to my eyes to think that I won't play again with my great mate @MitchJohnson398. Great team man, great friend & cricket legend— Shane Watson (@ShaneRWatson33) November 17, 2015
Massive congrats to great mate @MitchJohnson398 on a fantastic career. Will be a few batsmen in the world breathing easier! Congrats mate!— Ryan Harris (@r_harris413) November 17, 2015
Jessica Jonassen and Holly Ferling, members of Australia’s women’s cricket team, also expressed their admiration for Johnson.
So did other cricketers and commentators.
Incredible athlete! Congrats on a magnificent career @MitchJohnson398— AB de Villiers (@ABdeVilliers17) November 17, 2015
Well played @MitchJohnson398. You had an impact on the game and very few can say that about themselves.— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) November 17, 2015
(With inputs from AFP)