The Telegraph
Wednesday , January 22 , 2014
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‘We want to be No.1 again’

Allan Border and Mitchell Johnson

Calcutta: Mitchell Johnson has been having a tremendous last 18 months and as an acknowledgement of his outstanding performances he received the prestigious Allan Border Medal.

But fiery pacer believes that he still has a lot of hard work to do and is gearing up to unleash himself in the upcoming series against South Africa.

The following are excerpts

On the high of receiving the Allan Border Medal

It hasn’t quite sunk in yet… I think when I go home, sit back and relax, then it will sink in a little bit. I am in a little bit of shock that it actually happened. It has been a crazy last 18 months for me. It has been a big build-up to the point where my career is right at the moment. It has been a thoroughly enjoyable journey for me. We were playing some excellent cricket as a team, and when you receive a personal accolade like the Allan Border Medal, it’s an amazing feeling. We will be playing against South Africa and we will try to be the No. 1 team again… That’s our main goal.

On the journey of the past 18 months

I went through a lot of emotions, I had a lot of thoughts in my mind. When I was injured and out of the team, I didn’t think that I would play cricket again. I was not interested in cricket. I wanted to get away from thinking about cricket 24x7... It helped me work my way through again. I got a lot fitter, a lot stronger and I also worked on a few areas in my bowling, which I knew had to. A lot of people helped me. I thank my wife for her support and for being positive. Obviously, Dennis Lillee has been a big part of the journey as well.

On if there was a turning point in his comeback story

It was the ODI series against England when I felt that things were coming together for me. I changed my run-up a bit… I did that in the IPL. That was my first real tournament after coming back from injury. I felt good throughout the tournament, but not quite great. I still thought that there were things to improve. It finally came against England in the ODI series and I went on from there. But a lot of hard work still has to be done. I want to keep bowling well consistently.

On his target in the next few years

I want to play as many games for Australia as I can… Consistency is the key. I want to consistently bowl at a good pace and be the strike bowler. Michael Clarke used me very well during the Ashes... Darren Lehmann was also part of the think-tank. I can come in and be aggressive and intimidating and it’s working really well for the team and we all are enjoying it for the moment.

On if he would like to give up any one format

Not one-dayers, but T20 maybe… But we have a lighter schedule this year. That would probably allow one to play in all the three formats. But I will take a call on one series at a time.

On if he has joining the 300-wicket club in mind

Not really… Those are the things to think about once you are retired and be proud of your achievements. I am enjoying my bowling now. I have just taken 37 wickets in one series and that doesn’t happen too often.

On if he would be going in with the same strategy against South Africa as against England

We need to have a similar strategy. South Africa have got a star-studded batting line-up… It’s a little bit weakened with Jacques Kallis not being there, but I think they’ve got three guys in the top-10 rankings batting-wise. They’re an unbelievable team, and they’re the No. 1 team for a reason.