Mitchell Johnson back in the Australian frame and opening up on mental demons
Fit-again paceman Mitchell Johnson has opened up about the depth of his mental battles last year, revealing he lost his love of the game and would have contemplated retirement had he not injured his toe.
FIT-AGAIN paceman Mitchell Johnson has opened up about the depth of his mental battles last year, revealing he lost his love of the game and would have contemplated retirement had he not injured his toe.
Johnson’s career has been put on hold since tearing ligaments in his big left toe while batting in Australia’s Test victory over South Africa in Johannesburg last November.
But the 30-year-old has revealed he was already mentally shot by that point, with even a surprise visit from his wife Jessica Bratich Johnson in the lead up to that Test not enough to lift him out of the doldrums.
“Going into that Test in Joburg, I was unsure if I could perform to be honest. It was at that point where I really just wanted to get away from the game and step back from it,” a candid Johnson said in Perth on Friday.
“The injury did come at the right time. I’d probably lost a bit of interest in playing the game.
“If I didn’t get the injury, if I kept going, I could have got dropped and that could have been it.
“That (retirement) could have been on the cards for sure.
“I guess being away from the media helped a little bit, not copping it day in, day out. So that’s been a bit of a relief.”
Johnson is confident those dark days are now behind him, saying he feels mentally and physically stronger than at any previous point in his career.
The 47-Test veteran will have the chance to prove his worth in Australia’s one-day tour of England in June-July, while selectors will also have an opportunity to assess the left-arm paceman when he fronts up for Australia A in four first-class matches from July.
Johnson is keen to continue in all three formats and said some recent sessions with his mentor Dennis Lillee had boosted his confidence.
“He went through an injury at a similar age and he came back and became a really smart bowler,” Johnson said of the Australia Test legend.
“He still had that pace when he wanted to use it, with that short ball or whatever it was. But he became a really smart bowler, he used the conditions to his advantage and that’s sort of where I’m heading at the moment.
“Hopefully I can play, with Twenty20 around now, for five to seven (more) years.” – AAP