The Australian spearhead believes he still has it in him to carry on playing cricket © Getty Images
The Australian spearhead believes he still has it in him to carry on playing cricket © Getty Images

Two games into his comeback since retiring from international cricket last November, Mitchell Johnson was dropped by the Kings XI Punjab hierarchy, and has played only other match hence. As it turns out, it’s exactly what the Australian needed after a longer than expected return to his fire-breathing ways. “It took two weeks to get the real desire. I thought I had it, I felt really good with the ball in my hand, but I probably wasn’t quite there until two weeks into the tournament. “Some of the net sessions I’ve been bowling I’ve had guys not come into my net because I’ve been pretty fired up. I hit ‘Maxi, his Australian teammate, Glenn Maxwell, in the thumb in Hyderabad.

“I actually told him not to come into my net because I had just been told I got dropped. I said don’t come into my net, mate, I’m not in the mood. No-one else was coming into the net and he came in, I had just bowled to one of our young guys, Manan Vohra, who I gave an absolute barrage to. Then Maxi came in, three balls later he’s backed away to try to cut me and I just followed him and hit him on the thumb. Not that I was trying to intentionally hit him but I just followed him. Definitely the fire is there. It just took two weeks longer than I wanted it to, he told to the cricket.com.au in Chandigarh.

Johnson wasn’t the only one noticing his initial IPL slump. His former Queensland Bulls paceman and Punjab bowling coach, Joe Dawes, had a surprising solution to get his spearhead’s mind back in the game as he suggested slapping him before the match to ignite the fire inside him.

Five-months past his retirement, the jet lag he suffered in those final moments as an international cricketer still lingered on in India. He soon realized that the extreme pace and the hostile bounce were not that effective.

Speaking about his life after retirement, he stated,” “I think when I finished I mellowed out a bit. Even towards the end, I felt a bit too ‘matey’ on the field and didn’t really get into the contest.  I didn’t really get into the contest at the start of this tournament. That’s where I’ve noticed a difference two weeks in, I’ve got into the contest in the nets, just need to get out there and play.  That’s what I do miss the most and that’s what annoyed me the most as well at the end of my career, because that was starting to get pushed away a bit. Umpires were getting involved, that was one thing that really bothered me a little bit because that was part of the game for me and some others as well. That’s how I always played it. You play on skill but you pick certain guys to have a crack at. That’s what I love, that’s what makes it exciting for me.  It’s not just run and bowl, walk back to you mark, run in and bowl, do the same thing. You’ve got to get in the contest. That to me is still having desire and still wanting to play.”

This desire could well bring him back to debut at the KFC Big Bash League debut. “I had a chat with Watto (former teammate and close friend Shane Watson) last night (in Mohali on Monday) and he keeps saying ‘you’ve got to play, it’s really good, and it’s good fun’. I still haven’t made a decision yet, but I think if I do it will be with the Scorchers. It’s still a discussion that I need to have with my wife Jess and have a chat with JL (Scorchers coach Justin Langer) when I get back as well and see if they can fit me in.  If I have that same desire I’ve had after that first two weeks here, having that same focus, I’m pretty keen to play. I just want to play cricket.”