Johnston quells retirement talk ahead of Bangladesh clashes
Ian Callender (Irish Mail on Sunday)
Trent Johnston has quelled rumours that he will be retiring from international cricket after the World Twenty20 in September.
Speaking exclusively to the Irish Mail On Sunday, after Ireland’s drawn game against Afghanistan at Rathmines, the 38 year old pace bowler has dismissed reports that he said he would definitely be going after the next world event and confirmed he wants to continue playing for one more year.
“I said it (the World Twenty20) would be the perfect time for me to go out on the world stage, but I didn’t say it was the be all and end all,” said Johnston.
“A lot of thanks have to go to Brendan (Connor, the Ireland strength and conditioning coach) and Kieran (O’Reilly, team physio) for the shape I’m in at the moment. I’m able to bowl two or three spells in a four-day game.
“My biggest concern was how I would get through the longer games. I got through one in Scotland (for Ireland A) and one here, albeit only half a game, but we did spend a lot of time in the field.
“I am bowling reasonably well, I’m happy with the way the ball is coming out so there is certainly no reason why I can’t keep going. You are a long time retired. I want to play as long as I can, as long as my body allows me to do that.
“If I was holding someone back I would leave, but I still feel I am contributing to the team and to our success. I’m still enjoying cricket, enjoying being around the team, seeing Kevin (O’Brien) captain the team so positively there today. We could have sat around for four days but he wanted to play cricket.”
Johnston’s new aim is to get the squad to the next 50-over World Cup finals in three years time, in Australia, the country of his birth. After eight of the 14 World Cricket League games, Ireland lead the eight-team table and are in pole position to get one of the two automatic qualifying spots.
“The way we played against Afghanistan at Clontarf in the one-dayers shows how close we are to qualifying for 2015. We still have six games to play, but I’d like to think I could get through to the last game against Scotland (in August 2013). I would love to help the guys to get on the plane to Australia,” confirmed Johnston, although he did acknowledge that would be one tournament too far.
“I certainly won’t be there bowling myself. Hopefully I might have a job, helping the guys preparing for that. But knowing my own body, I know that’s an achievable goal to get through to next year, so there’s no reason why I should stop now.”
There is no shortage of candidates queuing up to take Johnston’s place, which encourages the Ireland veteran.
“Max (Sorensen) is coming through and getting better every game, hopefully we will still have Boyd (Rankin) and Stuart Thompson made a hugely impressive debut. He bowled a jaffa to get his first wicket. He’s got a massive future and could be the guy who takes my place in Australia. Happy days.”
Looking ahead to this week’s three Twenty20 internationals against Bangladesh, starting on Wednesday, Johnston sees them as another opportunity for Ireland to make its mark on the World stage, in a format he enjoys more than most.
“It’s great to play T20 cricket, especially if you’re a 38 year old. You have only to bowl four overs and then you’re out.
“But, it’s good for us, playing a Full Member, we can raise our profile. So it’s a massive three days.
“We’ve a full-strength team; it’s great to have Boyd back. We have guys at 80mph but to have him bowling in the high 80s and with his height it gives us that extra dimension.
“We play good T20 cricket, a lot of our guys are coming off a 10-game season with the counties and the rest of us have cricket in our legs. If we put them under pressure and win a couple of games it will add more fuel to the fire and give us confidence going into the World Cup.
“First and foremost, it gives us another chance to beat our closest rivals. Roll on Wednesday.”