The independent voice of cricket


How Mitchell Johnson smoothed things over with Starc after misinterpreted ‘body language’ criticism

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Mitchell Johnson, while in conversation with Shane Watson on Lessons Learnt with the Greats podcast, recalled the time some comments he made about Mitchell Starc were misinterpreted and revealed how he cleared the air.

Johnson took up commentary after his retirement from the sport and was covering India’s tour of Australia 2018/19 when he commented on Starc’s body language and how the team got affected when their premier fast bowler wasn’t at his best.

“I just don’t like his body language,” Johnson told ABC Grandstand radio, as quoted by cricket.com.au. “He hasn’t given a bit of a glare or puffed his chest out with a good follow through, let the batsman know he’s in the contest, that he’s going to rip the pegs out.”

His arguments, however, were, in Johnson’s view, twisted and presented in a way as if he had slammed his former Australia teammate. “I commented on Mitchell Starc,” Johnson said. “India series, Adelaide Oval. I was on the radio and I made the comment about his run-up, I think, and his body language, saying if his body language is up and about, then the team gets up and about, it actually drives them, the crowd gets into it, it’s a really big thing.

“And because he often dropped his shoulders, you can just tell he wasn’t enjoying it. And I had been through that and I knew exactly what he was feeling, so I felt like it was a good comment. But the thing was that it got taken in the print and it was written that I was having a go at him. And that actually took me off guard.”

Johnson, in a bid to clarify, messaged Starc and some of the Australia players but didn’t receive a reply. It was only after he met Starc the next day that things went back to normal.

“I actually spoke to Starcy [Starc] about it. After the boys had round me up, I sent a text to say, ‘This isn’t what I had said, it wasn’t in that context’, and they didn’t reply back. There was a few of them because I was trying to figure out if they were annoyed at what I said. Next day, I was on the field, about to interview Starcy, and Nathan Lyon, the GOAT, comes at me and goes, ‘Starcy’s not happy with you.’ And I’m like, ‘Oh, this is great.’

“So, anyway, Starcy walks over and he is shaking his head and he comes, gives me a big hug and goes, ‘Mate, all good, didn’t even know you said it.’ As you said, if you have a good relationship, you can actually say things and it’s not a personal thing. And I had many chats with him throughout the summer. We had many phone chats and any time we saw each other, it was always about trying to get him better. It’s not to try and take him down.”

Have Your Say

Become a Wisden member

  • Exclusive offers and competitions
  • Money-can’t-buy experiences
  • Join the Wisden community
  • Sign up for free
Latest magazine

Get the magazine

12 Issues for just £39.99