Perth, Nov 18: Legendary English all-rounder Ian Botham believes batsmen across the world will sleep better following the retirement of Australia speedster Mitchell Johnson. The 34-year-old concluded his international career on Tuesday with 313 Test wickets, becoming Australia’s fourth highest Test wicket-taker after Shane Warne (708), Glenn McGrath (563) and Dennis Lillee (355).(Read: Anirban Lahiri keen on ending European season on a high in Dubai)
“I wish him all the very, very best. He’s been a very good cricketer. After pounding that body every day of the week you eventually hit a wall. It took me no longer than five minutes to decide to retire. He will have said ‘I can’t do it anymore, I’m not enjoying it, it’s time to get out’. I respect him for that,” Botham was quoted as saying by Sky Sports on Wednesday.
“There will be a lot of batsmen sleeping a lot better tonight. He’s probably the best strike bowler who has been around in recent years. He was the go-to bowler for Australia – the captain throws him the ball and says ‘look, we need a wicket desperately’; Johnson comes steaming in bowling 90 mph-plus – he’s aggressive, he’s in your face.”
Former England all-rounder David Lloyd added that Johnson was a captain’s dream of a fast bowler and a “champion and warrior” for Australia. “One of the great things about Test cricket is when you see a fast bowler thundering in, bowling 90 mph. That is why they call it a Test. It is a test of your resolve as a batsman,” Lloyd said.
“He has been an absolute champion, a warrior, for Australia. A thrilling fast bowler. He is a captain’s dream, would bowl at any time of the day or any end. And I have always been impressed in particular by the fact that at 5 p.m. in the evening, he is still able to get it through at 90 mph-plus.”
Former England skipper Nasser Hussain said it was Johnson’s pursuit of perfection that likely contributed to his retirement at 34, with some years still left in the tank. “He is someone who wants to play at the highest level and not willing to do it at 80 or 90 per cent. He has been through the mill, had some real ups and downs in Test cricket and so now wants to play at his best, nothing else,” Hussain said. “He has admitted that at times he wished he was injured because he just did not know where the ball was going. He went away, worked with Dennis Lillee, got himself stronger, and then the way he came back into side was remarkable.”