Mitchell Johnson has been recuperating at home from a toe infection he suffered during Australia’s Test series in South Africa earlier this month. In a conversation with The Indian Express over the phone, Johnson speaks about his rehabilitation as he looks forward to the upcoming IPL, where he will be turning up for a new team — Kings XI Punjab. Excerpts.
What is the status of your toe infection? Is it serious?
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).
Will you feel your way back into cricket due to the nature of your injury?
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.
What were the ramifications from the time spent away due to surgery?
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.
Who do you credit for such an emphatic comeback?
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.
After a terrific season with the Mumbai Indians last year, you’ll be playing for KXIP in the 7th edition. Your take on the squad?
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 Maxwell at Mumbai last year and now, both of us are back together with the Kings. Then there’s Bailey, who’s getting better as a player, and obviously Shaun Marsh, with whom I have played a lot of cricket for Western Australia. Sehwag, who has dominated Australia previously, is also in the squad. Last year was my first year in the IPL and very enjoyable. Now, I’m going to have a lot more fun with the Kings.
Are you pleased to have Sehwag in the same squad?
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.