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Mitchell Johnson optimistic about comeback from toe injury

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Mitchell Johnson has been in red-hot form for Australia recently © Getty Images

Mar 27, 2014

After Australian pacer Mitchell Johnson finds himself of the sidelines of the national team after suffering from an injured toe, still the firebrand bowler does have enough reason to be happy about starting with the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL) season with his franchise Kings XI Punjab (KXIP).

In an exclusive interview with the IndianExpress, Johnson opens up about his injury, his plans for making a comeback to competitive cricket and also his first season for Punjab in IPL.

When asked about the toe injury he suffered, Johnson replied: “I had a toe infection after the Test series in South Africa. The infection started in my foot and spread to my right leg but I caught it in time and had some antibiotics. It has gone away and I have started training — running and going to the gym. [I] should be fine to go [for the IPL].”

Johnson who also seemed optimistic about finding his way back to international cricket added: “I’m not concerned at all [about that]. I think I am at the peak of my game and don’t feel I will be making a comeback. This [injury] is totally different from what I had earlier. Back then [in 2011], I had surgery — this is just a little cut on my toe that blew up into an infection. So I don’t have to do any rehab or spend too much time away from the game.”

On questions him recovering and of whether the injury would hamper his current great form, Johnson replied: “I had surgery on my toe and was able to get away from cricket. After that, I worked on my fitness and strength, which are very important [to me]. Last year’s IPL was very exciting for me as it came just after I returned to fitness. A few things I worked on during the break were my bowling run-up, including the length. I went back to the longer run-up so that I have more rhythm and hit the crease hard. Basically, [I worked on] my fitness, my strength, run-up and the power of my bowling arm.”

Johnson who credits Dennis Lillee and his wife for making important contributions to his recovery further added : “I’m going to say two people — my lovely wife and Dennis Lillee — played a crucial role. Lillee has been a huge part of my career — he still is. He made me work on a longer run-up over many hours of runs in the streets of Perth to get my fitness up. Working with him has definitely been exciting and helped me improve my game. I would also mention the time and effort that I had to put in myself. I was pushing very hard for a comeback as I was told, and heard, repeatedly, that I would never play Test cricket for Australia again. That definitely spurred me on to make a comeback.”

On questions of whether the team composition for Punjab in IPL 7 was an ideal one, Johnson said: “I’m looking forward to the challenge of a new club. It’s a very very good team. There are some Australian players with whom I’m familiar and others who I have played against. Adam Gilchrist has played earlier for this club. I was with [Glenn] Maxwell at Mumbai in 2013 and now, both of us are back together with the Kings. Then there’s [George] Bailey, who’s getting better as a player, and obviously Shaun Marsh, with whom I have played a lot of cricket for Western Australia [WA]. Virender Sehwag, who has dominated Australia previously, is also in the squad. 2013 was my first year in the IPL and very enjoyable. Now, I’m going to have a lot more fun with the Kings.”

Johnson who also feels that Sehwag may prove to be a decisive factor for the Punjab side in the upcoming tournament concluded by saying: “I’m glad that I will be bowling to him in the nets. He will be a valuable player. With his experience, he will be able to nurture the young guys in the unit. He has got a great eye and a great record. Exciting times lie ahead.”

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