Unlike his Lord’s attire, Trent Johnston looks a perfect fit for Ireland bowling vacancy
It’s a pity the Aussie didn’t hold off until the World Cup in his native Australia in 2015, but Father Time waits on no man
Trent Johnston: looks a perfect fit for a coaching role with Ireland.
Queen Elizabeth II delayed the start of play at Lord’s by 15 minutes yesterday, the only person in the world you’d imagine that would hold up a Test match at the home of cricket.
It wasn’t quite long enough of a delay for Trent Johnston, who was busy chasing down some lost luggage after his flight from Dublin, with the Ireland international unsure as to whether shorts and flip flops were quite the attire to wear in the pavilion.
In the end he borrowed a jacket off a friend, who also procured an uncollected shirt off a local dry cleaner, while a trip to Marks and Spencers for a pair of slacks and a belt finished off the outfit
It was a small hiccup in a week when the Australian-born all-rounder announced that he will end his international career after December’s Intercontinental Cup final in Dubai.
It didn’t come as a big surprise that the 39-year-old was making the decision and he admitted that the recovery periods involved were getting so tough that he even needed his children, Charlie and Claudia, to help him on and off with his socks after the tour of the UAE earlier this year.
It’s not something the Queen has to worry about, but maybe Cricket Ireland could have employed the services of a butler in an attempt to keep Johnston going until the World Cup in his native Australia in 2015.
Fitting send off
It would have been a fitting send off, but 20 months is a long time in cricket, and Old Father Time, who stands sentinel over the Tavern Stand here at Lord’s, waits for no man.
In many respects, Johnston’s career could have been oh so different if he was born a few years later. He battled hard to get into a New South Wales side that included Brett Lee and his brother Shane, Stuart Clarke and Nathan Bracken. And they were just the seamers; add in leg-spinner Stuart McGill and Michael Bevan’s chinamen and you’re looking at one of the great bowling line-ups below international cricket at the time. And indeed better than some countries could muster.
Australia’s loss was certainly Ireland’s gain, with Johnston’s leadership qualities being recognised early on as he was given the captaincy by Adrian Birrell ahead of the 2007 World Cup.
It was a decision based on both his quality as a player who always led by example, but also his professional mindset that infused right throughout the side.
Johnston’s speech in the interval during the Pakistan match at Sabina Park during the 2007 World Cup when he asked his players would they rather stay on in the Caribbean for another three weeks or return to their jobs as postmen and electricians must surely go down as one of the great ones in Irish sporting history.
Of course he went on to hit the winning six that day, and the determination in his eyes before launching the ball into the party stand was exactly why Birrell made him Irish captain.
Johnston was one of the senior players who drove the professional approach on the pitch, while also challenging the cricketing authorities to match it off it.
Abrasive at times, Johnston had his run-ins with officials along the way, but his intentions were always for the best and generations of cricketers to come will benefit from his efforts in that regard.
The worrying thing for Ireland is just who will replace Johnston with the new ball, especially so given the fact that his former opening partner, Boyd Rankin, has thrown in his lot with England.
After all, Johnston is still ranked in the top 20 in the ICC one-day rankings, a stunning achievement for a player in his 40th year.
Max Sorensen looks like the heir apparent at this stage and has certainly come on in leaps and bounds since being awarded a full-time Cricket Ireland contract, while Tim Murtagh still has to convince that he is more than just a red-ball bowler.
On announcing his retirement, Johnston stated his intentions to develop his coaching credentials from his position as Leinster Lightning player/coach, although he admitted that those opportunities might not be there in Ireland at present and the he may have to look overseas.
Ireland have previously dabbled with the idea of a bowling coach, with former Australian paceman Craig McDermott taken on in a temporary capacity at one stage.
With the 2015 World Cup taking place in the land of his birth, a permanent addition to Phil Simmons’s coaching ticket might be right under Cricket Ireland’s nose.
Unlike his outfit at Lord’s yesterday, it could be a perfect match.