Three of Australia’s top 10 men will headline the field at the Apis Canberra International $50,000 ATP Challenger event at Canberra Tennis Centre next week, with more than half Australian players.
Australia’s Jordan Thompson (NSW), James Duckworth (NSW) and Matthew Barton (NSW) will join some of the world’s best players in the nation’s capital, where US $50,000 and world ranking points will be on the line.
Thompson is the top world ranked player, currently ranked 99 in the world. The Aussie trio will be joined by ten other top 25 Australian players, including 2015 Canberra International singles final runner-up Luke Saville (SA), and fellow Aussies John Patrick Smith (QLD), Matthew Ebden (WA), Blake Mott (NSW), Marc Polmans (VIC), Christopher O’Connell (NSW), Max Purcell (NSW), Omar Jasika (VIC), Dayne Kelly (VIC), and Maverick Banes (OLD) in the main draw.
The international charge will be led by Argentinian talent Marco Trungelliti (ARG) and Slovakia’s Grega Zemlja (SLO), as well as challengers from India, Italy, Korea, Japan, New Zealand and the USA.
A strong women’s draw will provide a masterful week of tennis, with 32 of the world’s top female tennis players to battle it out on court in the ITF event, with an additional US $50,000 and world rankings points up for grabs. Both from Japan, world No.117 Risa Ozaki and world No.161 Hiroko Kuwata will start as early favourites for the title, but will be forced to overcome top ranked Australian Arina Rodionova (VIC) (184) who will be looking to add to her successful 2016 campaign which has included a doubles quarter final berth in the Australian Open 2016 with sister Anastasia, Federation Cup, Rio Olympics and runner up in Lexington USA.
Former junior Wimbledon champion Ashleigh Barty (QLD) will make a return to singles tennis in Canberra, after time off playing cricket, currently ranked 328 in the world.
And during an impressive year with wins over former top 50 players Laura Robson and Melanie Oudin, Canberra’s Alison Bai will have the support of her home crowd.
Lizette Cabrera (QLD), Storm Sanders (WA), Olivia Rogowska (VIC) round out to total 6 Australians to play in the women’s field.
Slovakian Dalila Jakupovic leads the International contingent, alongside 2015 Canberra International singles champion, Asia Muhammad (USA) who is fresh from a doubles quarter final berth at the 2016 US Open.
The men’s and women’s Apis Canberra International events form part of the Australian Pro Tour, which provides local and international players the ideal lead-in to the domestic summer of tennis.
Tennis Australia Pro Tour Manager Fiona Luscombe, said the events will bring world class tennis to Canberra.
“We are really pleased with the fields assembled for both tournaments and are excited to welcome more than 100 of the world’s top tennis players to the Territory.
“The outstanding new Canberra Tennis Centre in Lyneham is an ideal venue to host elite-level tournaments, and I encourage all local tennis fans to come along and experience international tennis right in their own backyard.”
About the event
Men’s qualifying begins on Saturday 29 October and women’s qualifying commencing Sunday 30 October with play commencing from 9am each day. Main draw action is scheduled to commence on Monday 1 November.
The Apis Canberra International is part of the Australian Pro Tour, a series of professional tennis events that bridge junior events and the ATP/WTA Tour, providing an opportunity for players to earn world ranking points.
The tournaments were announced in September as part of the Tennis ACT calendar of Pro Tour events secured through the redevelopment of the Canberra Tennis Centre. The redeveloped centre features 28 tennis courts – including synthetic grass, Italian clay and hardcourt surfaces – as well as four ANZ Tennis Hot Shots courts.
Finals weekend will be Saturday 5 – Sunday 6 November, with doubles scheduled on Saturday and singles on Sunday. The weekend will be filled with activities and fun for the whole family, including face painting, jumping castle and speed serve.
Entry to the Canberra Tennis Centre is free for all five Pro-Tour 2016/2017 events, with a gold coin donation upon entry on finals days.
The main draw for the Apis Canberra International Men’s and Women’s events are subject to change until Monday 1 November 2016.
After an interview on ABC’s Grandstand in the morning, Australian Test player number 400 moved on to Westfield, Belconnen and The Hyperdome, Tuggeranong to do autographs for his many loyal Canberra fans.
He concluded the day with an open panel hosted by ABC’s Tim Gavel at Eastlake Football Club in Kingston before signing further copies of his new book.
When starting out, Haddin admitted that becoming wicketkeeper was not an actual goal and that it came by chance.
“I became wicketkeeper by mistake at age 10,” the Queanbeyan star said.
“I put my hand up when no one else did, and I then ended up representing the ACT juniors.”
Not even the opportunity to play for his country crossed his mind as he was only focusing on challenging himself.
“The only challenge was to be the best cricketer I could possibly be. I never really thought about playing for Australia.”
Born in Cowra, NSW, Haddin grew up in Gundagai before moving to Queanbeyan. From there, he moved back and forth across the border to play a mix of ACT state junior reps, school, and grade cricket.
“If I had a bad day at NSW school, I could always turn to the ACT [for cricket].” Haddin said.
“Then I was lucky to be selected for the [Australian Cricket] Academy at age 18.”
The director of the Academy at the time was Rod Marsh – another legendary Australian wicketkeeper who has recently stepped down as Cricket Australia Chairman of Selectors and who would have certainly provided a valuable mentor for one of his many successors in Haddin.
Although Haddin said his relationship with Marsh was mostly fine over the years, he added that the handling of his axing by the former chairman in the 2015 Ashes series in England was poor, and should have been more civilised.
“I do have a pretty good relationship with Rod Marsh, but he did not have the guts to tell me face to face that I had been dropped [from the Australian Test team].”
Haddin made his debut for the ACT Comets in the 1997/1998 in the domestic one day season before beginning his first class career for New South Wales in 1999/2000. He then captained them to the Sheffield Shield title in 2004/2005.
The chance to represent his country would have to wait a while as other wicketkeepers including Darren Berry, Ryan Campbell and Wade Seccombe were tipped to be among Gilchrist’s eventual successor.
The left-handed slogger retired after the 2007/2008 season, and the local Queanbeyan hero made his international debut at age 30 against the West Indies at Kingston.
He would then remain the national ‘keeper’ for the next 5 years, including competing in the unsuccessful 2009 and 2010/2011 Ashes series and scoring centuries in both.
But things would change in early 2012, when his 17-month old daughter Mia was diagnosed with cancer, forcing her father to fly home from the West Indies tour and take indefinite leave from the game to be with his family in such a difficult time.
“I got the call from my wife while I was in the West Indies and we thought something wasn’t right with Mia.” Haddin declared.
“From the other end [in the West Indies], I thought she had cancer. I had mixed thoughts about her condition on the flight home.”
This brought Brad closer to his loved ones and he made his family the number one priority while leaving cricket out of the question.
“We just wanted to come together and make sure that Mia was going to be okay. We didn’t really want anyone to feel sorry for us. The only thing we thought about was giving Mia the best possible chance of survival. It really wasn’t about the cricket.”
Some critics were of the view that his international career was over when he left at age 34, and even he admitted that he was unsure whether to return to cricket or not because of his daughter.
“I wasn’t sure whether I still had that drive to get back to the top. The only time I felt uncomfortable was when the kids were around and that cricket would get in the way.”
Despite the initial doubts, Haddin found the inner strength and returned to the international game come the 2013 Ashes series in England, where, despite Australia losing 3-0, he made a promising comeback and took a record number of wicketkeeping dismissals in a series with close to 40.
This was only the beginning of greater things to come, as his batting efforts in the return Ashes series Down Under only 3 months later helped Australia out of tight situations and provided a valuable contribution to an historic 5-0 whitewash. So much so that his 493 runs at an average of 61.62 almost earned him player of the series.
He said that the keeper-batsman’s duty is to steady run-scoring when wickets are falling fast.
“It is the job of the wicketkeeper to stop the collapses and score the runs when needed.”
Then despite the tragic death of Phillip Hughes, the one day international side would remain strong and go on to win the 2015 Cricket World Cup at home in Melbourne 4 months later.
In the next Ashes series, Haddin would play the first test at Cardiff, Wales before his daughter fell ill again and he was forced to temporarily withdraw from the tour to fly home and be with his family again.
While he made himself available for the third test at Edgebaston, Birmingham, chairman of selectors Rod Marsh decided to stick with replacement wicketkeeper Peter Nevill and drop Haddin altogether without telling him upfront.
Along with Michael Clarke and Shane Watson, Brad decided to retire from international cricket after the failed Ashes campaign.
He mentioned that playing for his country was never an initial goal. To him, it was all about putting in the effort to be a top-class cricketer.
“The only challenge was to be the best cricketer I could possibly be. I never really thought about playing for Australia.”
When asked about his preferred captain between Ricky Ponting and Clarke to play under, Haddin chose the former.
“Michael Clarke was certainly very good tactically, but Ponting was the best [captain] because he knew how to get the best out of everybody.”
When it came to writing his book, the 66 Test veteran admitted that he was reluctant to ‘relive’ his past.
“I was hesitant at first because we would like to have things kept private – especially everything that was happening with Mia. The hard thing for me was to relive all the bad things I have been through.”
Haddin was offered the captaincy of the annual Prime Minister’s XI match in Canberra next month, but turned it down.
Instead, he will be assistant coach for the Australian One Day International team this summer.
More than 25 teams will be playing in the second ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Netball Tournament, held in Canberra on Saturday [29 October].
Teams have come from regional Victoria, NSW and the ACT to play in the women’s, mixed and junior division competitions at the Deakin Netball Centre.
The event has been organised by the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Netball Committee in collaboration with the Tuggeranong Netball Association.
It builds on last year’s inaugural tournament, attended by more than 1300 people who watched 300 netball players in action.
A spokeswoman for the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Netball Committee, Deanne Booth, said “encouraging participation in netball for our women and girls will one day lead to one of our girls representing their families and communities as an Australian Diamond”.
“And more broadly, this tournament strongly supports maintaining an active healthy lifestyle for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders though playing netball”.
Beginning at 8.30am on Saturday 29 October, the tournament will also feature the presentation by Netball Australia of Australia Post’s national ONE NETBALL Award to the Tuggeranong Netball Association for its work in promoting inclusion of Indigenous athletes and families in the Tuggeranong valley.
ONE NETBALL ambassadors Beryl Friday, who played for the Queensland Firebirds in the ANZ TransTasman League, and Sepi Hawke, former captain of the Canberra Darters, will also be attending the tournament.
The president of the Tuggeranong Netball Association, Jonathan Toze, said the Tuggeranong netball community was delighted to again partner with the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Netball Committee to host the tournament.
“This tournament is a wonderful tribute to the vision and energy of a hardworking group of people from our Indigenous families involved in netball across our region,’ he said. ‘Seeing the joy, passion and commitment of these players and their families is uplifting,” Mr Toze said.
The Canberra Demons are pleased to further announce the key re-signings of 2016 Best & Fairest Runner Up and 2015 AFL Canberra Mulrooney Medallist Isaac Taylor, defenders Nick Collins and Luke McKay along with utilities Jack Baker and Lachlan Harper who have all recommitted for the 2017 season.
Taylor, who returned to the NEAFL fold in 2016 following his debut in 2012, had a stellar 2016 finishing runner up in the Demons Best and Fairest behind Belconnen teammate Jordan Harper. Taylor will look to continue to work hard over the pre-season to further enhance his effectiveness around the stoppages which is a valuable assist to the Demons midfield group.
“Personally I was really happy with coming back into NEAFL in 2016 having played at Belconnen in 2015, and I felt that I adjusted well throughout the season. My second half of the season was an improvement on the first half of the year and I am looking forward to pre-season and working hard on fitness levels” said Taylor.
Former NSW / ACT Rams member Luke McKay is coming off one of his best seasons of footy having being awarded the Round 4 NEAFL Rising Star Nomination and was seen as one of the Demons most improved performers in 2016.
“I felt in 2015 I was a bit anxious when playing but this season I’ve felt really comfortable in my role in defence and felt as though I belonged at NEAFL level. There is a really good base we have built to take us into 2017” said McKay.
“Isaac, Nick and Jack are really valuable assets to our side and it’s great to see them continue at NEAFL level in 2017. They bring a lot to the group both on and off the field and I would expect them to take their game to another level next season” said Coach Kade Klemke.
“Luke is only 19 and had a break out season in 2016. He’s a fantastic young man and always wants to improve his game which shows the pride he has in his performances and his maturity is beyond his years. Lachie will continue to develop given his injury concerns over the past few seasons, similar to Luke, he has a hard work ethic and is always keen to improve his output” Klemke added.
Lord’s Taverners Honours for Local Rising Stars
Two emerging talented young local cricketers have each received a prestigious honour from the Lord’s Taverners.
Ginninderra Cricket Club fast bowler, Jessica Howard and Australian National University Cricket Club batsman, Daniel Leerdam have received Graham Wilkinson Memorial Junior Taverners Awards.
“On behalf of the Lord’s Taverners, I would like to congratulate Jessica and Daniel for being recognised with junior Taverners awards,” said the President of the Lord’s Taverners ACT, Ric Smith. “The awards are for up-and-coming local stars and are designed to encourage them to go on to achieve even more in their cricket careers. Awards like these are an integral part of the support the Lord’s Taverners provides to local young cricketers and other athletes.”
Jessica and Daniel have each received $1500 and a Kookaburra cricket kit. The awards, which carry the name of the foundation President of the Lord’s Taverners ACT, are for cricketers aged between 14 and 18 who show outstanding qualities of ability, sportsmanship and general attitude to the game – both on and off the field.
The awards were announced at the 2016 Lord’s Taverners ACT Annual Dinner.
Jessica said: “It’s a small boost in the right direction.”
Daniel said: “It’s great to be recognised in this way and it will support my cricket career.”
Past recipients of these awards include Michael Bevan (1989), Jason Behrendorff (2007) and Jason Floros (2008). More detailed information about Jessica and Daniel follows.
Profiles – 2016 Graham Wilkinson Memorial Junior Taverners Award Winners
Jessica is a specialist fast bowler who plays for the Ginninderra Cricket Club. She is also a member of the ACT/NSW under 18 team. Her best bowling was 7/8 against St Edmund’s in the boys under 18 division 1 colts competition. She usually bats at number 11 where her best innings is 15.
Daniel is a top or middle-order batsman who is also a leg-spinner. He plays for the Australian National University Cricket Club. He is captain of the ACT/NSW under 17 side and captained the winning ACT/Southern side in the Bradman Cup. His best betting performance was 109 against Whangarei Cricket Club. His best bowling was 6/8 playing for Radford College against Canberra Grammar School.
Class Shows in Premier Squash Semi-Finals
The semi-finals in the ACT Premier Squash Competition were held this week at the Woden Squash Centre.
As predicted, Corey Bedingfield and Peter Nuttall will play the Line 1 Grand Final on Saturday.
Hayden Ross was competitive throughout the match with Corey, however some unforced errors by Hayden during some crucial parts of each game allowed Corey to sneak in front and hold the lead to win 3-0.
Charan Walia was out to push Peter Nuttall as far as he could. While he was able to win 1 game, Peter was able to move Charan around the court which caught up with Charan towards the end.
Line 1 Semi Final Results
Corey Bedingfield (SCSC) defeated Hayden Ross (DSC) 11-9, 14-12, 11-6
Peter Nuttall (SCSC) defeated Charan Walia (SCSC) 11-7, 7-11, 11-3, 11-9
The semi Finals saw a couple of match ups for the history books.
First up Alex Lock v Corey Markham. Historically these two have had some cracker matches but of late, Alex has been on top. Alex started off well, dominating from the front, winning the first game 11-7. Corey came out in the 2nd fighting hard, however Alex was able to hang on in a close one, winning the 2nd 13-11. Corey stuck to his guns once again in the 3rd, pushing Alex all the way, once again though, Alex refused to respect his elders, also winning the 3rd in a close one, 12-10.
Next on court was Ben Phillips and Graham Mackay. With both players representing the Dickson Squash Club, Dickson was guaranteed a player in the Grand Final for Line 2. The first game could have gone either way, however some unforced errors towards the end of the first by Ben allowed Graham to get on top, winning 11-7. Ben certainly wasn’t himself in the second game, Graham winning comfortably 11-4. The crowd upstairs waited with anticipation for Ben to get those fist pumps out in the 3rd to make a match of it. With that said, Ben found some form and won the 3rd 11-9. To Graham’s credit though, he wasn’t going to let Ben sneak back into the match, going on to win the 4th 11-6.
The scene has been set for Alex Lock v Graham Mackay in the Grand Final this Saturday.
Line 2 Semi Final Results
Alex Lock (SCSC) defeated Corey Markham (QSC) 11-7, 13-11, 12-10
Graham Mackay (DSC) defeated Ben Phillips (DSC) 11-7, 11-4, 9-11, 11-6
First up was the hard hitting, cork screwing, Jamie Latham up against the never give up Lachy Watt. Jamie got stuck in early, getting on top, winning the first two games. Lachy showed touches of brilliance during the second however, which continued into the 3rd game, with Lachy going on to win the 3rd game and looking to take it to a five games match. Jamie stuck to his game plan however and Lachy wasn’t able to get in front during the 4th, with Jamie eventually winning 3-1.
With Jamie securing the first spot in the Line 3 Grand Final, it was then up to the young gun Zac Morris up against the experienced Russell Hyde to see who would join Jamie on Saturday. It was basically point for point the entire match, with both players having their opportunities to get on top. In a very close one, Zac snuck in to win the 1st game 12-10. The next 2 games were also close, however Zac was able to keep in front just enough to win 3-0 in the end, however Russell certainly pushed him all the way.
So with the semi finals completed, the Line 3 Grand Final will be Jamie Latham v Zac Morris.
Line 3 Semi Final Results
Jamie Latham (VSC) defeated Lachy Watt (SCSC) 11-4, 11-7, 7-11, 11-8
Zac Morris (SCSC) defeated Russell Hyde (DSC) 12-10, 11-8, 11-9
Canberra Demons Re-sign Key Players
The Canberra Demons are pleased announce the key re-signings of experienced forward Aaron Bruce, midfielder Nick Pleming and key defender Ben Halse for the 2017 season. Youngsters Sam De Sousa and Don Roberts have also recommitted for the 2017 season also.
Bruce, who became just second player from the ACT region to play 100 NEAFL matches, was the Demons leading goal kicker in 2016 and will now be well assisted by recruit Josh Bennett in the forward line.
“Despite the losses this season, realistically we are not that far off the pack in terms of next season. I am really happy with the way things are heading and was keen to continue on at NEAFL level. With the guys such as Bennett, Milne and Swan coming on board along with Kade, personally I feel our goal should be finals in 2017” said Bruce.
Pleming enjoyed another consistent season through the midfield whilst also working forward at times throughout the 2016 season will be looking to take the next step in 2017 after three seasons at NEAFL level.
“Having grown up in the Riverina, I am really enjoying my time in Canberra and I feel I am getting that confidence in my game to take it to another level now having had the time to build my consistency. The Canberra Demons looked after me with work last season as I completed my uni degree. I am pretty happy with how everything is going on and off the field and looking forward to 2017” said Pleming.
Former Eastlake Junior Ben Halse enjoyed yet another consistent season down in defence with a preference to take on the tall forwards in the competition following his debut in the NEAFL back in 2013.
“To get the opportunity to play at the NEAFL level is something I really value and enjoy coming up against the quality forwards in the competition. No doubt it is challenging, but over the past couple of seasons I feel as though I have really benefited from the challenges week in, week out” said Halse.
“To have guys such as Aaron, Nick and Ben re-sign with us is a credit to them. They have played in the competition for past couple of season and could have been easy for them to return to the local AFL Canberra league” said Coach Kade Klemke.
“Don Roberts is only 18 and has already played 31 matches of NEAFL which shows he has some talent to take him forward. He won’t have Giants Academy next season so we are looking forward to having him back full time with us. Sam got some opportunities late in the season so he can only get better with another pre-season under his belt” Klemke added.
Northside clubs rule again at ACT & District Premier Teams Championships
Northside netball clubs have again dominated the 2016 ACT & District Premier Team Championships, winning five out of seven divisions, including the prestitigious Seniors Division 1 title.
South Gungahlin Raiders, representing the North Canberra Netball Competition (NCNC) run jointly by Belconnen and Canberra Netball Associations, defeated the Valley Thunder from Tuggeranong Netball Association 36 to 31.
All six teams from NCNC who qualified for the tournament, held yesterday (Sunday October 9) at the Tuggeranong Netball Centre in Calwell, qualified for their division’s final.
In addition to the Raiders, Inner North Lynnx, Merici Macarons, Ginninderra Jade and JPC Stars won Seniors Division 3, Intermediates Division 2 and Intermediates Division 4 respectively.
This is an improvement from the tournament last year, where NCNC teams won three of the seven divisions, including Seniors Division 1 won by Ginninderra Black Pearls.
‘Congratulations to Belconnen and Canberra Netball Associations for putting the NCNC together – the results at this year’s tournament demonstrate the strength of the clubs from the Northside,’ tournament organiser, Tuggeranong Netball’s president Jonathan Toze, said yesterday.
‘The tournament is continuing to grow into becoming the must-win event for our region’s netball clubs. South Gunghalin are a very competitive club and it was an honour to host them today and see such high-quality netball against our best.’
Tuggeranong Netball Association was the next best performed with four teams in finals, but only winning the Intermediates Division 1 title through the Rebel Rebels.
This team overwhelmingly dominated their opposition in the pool games, scoring 150 goals while conceding only 20. They defeated the Merici Mustangs from NCNC, 38 to 11.
Arawang Netball Association recorded one victory through the Jetsetters T-Birds who defeated the Killer Katz from Tuggeranong, 39 to 24 in the Seniors Division 2 final.
South Canberra Netball Association had two finalists in the Intermediate divisions, but the Canberra Girls Grammar School Diamonds and the St Clare’s College Fizzers lost to their NCNC opponents.
Mr Toze said that while the Queanbeyan and Goulburn Netball Associations teams did not make the finals this year, their teams had shown that netball in the region was continuing to thrive.
‘I’d like to especially thank the teams from Goulburn and Bungendore who participated – while results didn’t go their way, their spirit and play to the final whistle was wonderful to see. I really hope we can continue to grow the tournament with clubs from regional associations from inland and the south coast wanting to test their mettle against teams from the ACT and district,’ he said.
Open Divisions Div 1: South Gunghalin Raiders Netball Club Roadrunners (NCNC) 37 defeated Valley Thunder (TNA), 37 to 31
Div 2: Jetsetters T-Birds (ANA) defeated Killer Katz (TNA), 39 to 24
Div 3: Inner North Netball Club Lynx (NCNC) defeated Saints Yeezy (ANA), 36 to 23
Div 1: Rebel Rebels (TNA) defeated Merici Mustangs (NCNC), 38 to 11
Div 2: Merici Macarons (NCNC) 25 defeated CGGS Diamonds (SCNA), 25 to 22
Div 3: GNC Jade (NCNC) defeated SCC Fizzers (SCNA), 26 to 12.
Div 4: JPC Stars (NCNC) defeated Royal Rebels 12 (TNA), 26 to 12
Mitchell Johnson Visits ‘Cold’ Capital
Former Australian Test fast bowler Mitchell Johnson visited several shopping centres in Canberra on Sunday November 6 to sign copies of his new autobiography, “Resilient”.
The Queensland-born star – now residing in Western Australia – began the day at QBD Bookstore in Westfield, Woden before moving on to the same franchise at Westfield, Belconnen and The Hyperdome, Tuggeranong.
Fans got both their copies of his book and other cricket memorabilia signed while getting their photograph taken with the 313 test wicket taker.
While enjoying his visit to the Bush Capital, The 35-year-old made point of the difference of climate compared to his usual warmer comfort zone.
“I remember how everyone tells me how cold it is here [in Canberra]. I certainly do.” Johnson said.
“I came here to the AIS when I was playing for Under 19’s and used the biomechanics facility [to test and modify my bowling technique].”
Although currently retired from international cricket, the 189cm paceman stated that he will further his ambitions in the upcoming annual T20 tournament later next month before heading back to India the following year to play in the Indian Premier League.
“I will be playing for the Perth Scorches in the Big Bash League and then will head back to India to play for Kings IX [Punjab] in the IPL.” Johnson said.
“There are many big T20 tournaments in the world at the moment and I would love to play some more of them.”
He added the amount of stress that pace bowling can impact on the body but how a player must stay active throughout the entire year (not just in one season alone) to allow the body to adapt.
“When you are a pace bowler, you have to keep bowling constantly to allow your body to stay warm and get into a comfortable rhythm. If you take a lengthy break before bowling again, your body can lose that rhythm and you will not be able to bowl consistently.”
“You don’t have that problem when you are a batsman because you are not moving around as much.”
Johnson, who played his last test match for Australia at the WACA in December last year, is renowned for being the man who almost single-handedly led his country to a 5-0 Ashes whitewash against England in 2013-2014 with his fast and overly intimidating pace bowling.
First discovered by bowling legend Dennis Lillee when only 17, he was described by the 355 test wicket-taker as a ‘once-in-a-generation’ bowler after the shy young Queenslander had only bowled 4 deliveries.
He was then sent to the Australian Cricket Academy in Adelaide, where he eventually earned a place in the Australian Under 19’s squad before playing Sheffield Shield for Queensland.
He then moved on to play for Western Australia, where he made the yellow state and the WACA his home.
He made his test debut in the 2007-2008 season and provided promising signs early after producing a dominant 8-61 against South Africa the following summer at home.
But reality set in the following year in the 2009 Ashes series in England, where a mix of big public attention, media swarming, pressure as a frontline bowler, bantering from the Barmy Army, and off-field issues became overwhelming for Johnson and therefore caused a slump in form.
This did no favours for the Australian team as they would go on to lose the Ashes.
The struggle for form continued in the return Ashes series Down Under in 2010-2011, albeit a six-wicket haul against England in the third test in Perth.
He then suffered an injury blow to the ankle in South Africa shortly afterwards, and it would sideline him indefinitely. Yet it was a blessing in disguise for the Townsville-born as it gave a him a much-needed rest from the game.
This would allow him to refresh himself and start over with the help of his great mentor Lillee.
He returned for the 2012-2013 series against Sri Lanka and – with an adjusted technique in his bowling action – tore through the batting attack to signal the return of a more mature and even more dangerous Johnson.
So it proved the following summer in the 2013-2014 Ashes series in Australia, where his hostile bowling struck fear into even the most dominant batsman in the England setup (bar Kevin Pietersen) and earned him the Player of the Series while helping his country regain the Ashes.
He would then show the same form in South Africa and pick up a total of 12 wickets in the first test in Centurion, aiding Australia to winning the series against the Proteas and earning back the number one test ranking.
Then despite the sorrows of the tragic on-field death of fellow teammate Phillip Hughes in November 2014, Johnson would go on to play in the Cricket World Cup campaign in Australia and New Zealand 3 months later, where his country would dominate the tournament and win the trophy for the 5th occasion.
After the disappointment of losing the Ashes once again in England 4 months later, Johnson then retired after the home summer’s test match at his adopted WACA ground against New Zealand.
He remains one of Australia’s proficient all-rounders with over 300 test wickets and more than 2,000 test runs.
When asked about the highlights of his career, Johnson’s answers would have seemed obvious and needless to say for any true follower of Australian Cricket.
“Definitely winning the Ashes 5-0 [in 2013-2014] and winning the World Cup last year at the MCG in front of your home crowd. It doesn’t get better than that. They will always be the best moments.”
Excluding the differences with former Australian coach Mickey Arthur, the ‘apprentice’ of the great Dennis Lillee feels no regrets though his accomplishments.
“I really don’t have too many, no. The only one I would say would have been working under Mickey Arthur. We did have a few problems in the camp, especially when it came to dealing with the players. Other than that, nothing.”