MITCHELL JOHNSON: It’s what you do next after being cut that counts

Mitchell Johnson
The Nightly
Ashton Agar has a big decision to make - but losing his national contract definitely doesn’t mean the end of his career, writes Mitchell Johnson.
Ashton Agar has a big decision to make - but losing his national contract definitely doesn’t mean the end of his career, writes Mitchell Johnson. Credit: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

From bursting onto the scene as a teenage Ashes sensation to reaching the crossroads, Ashton Agar has been left with plenty to think about after losing his national contract.

It came hot on the heels of losing his place in Western Australia’s Sheffield Shield team and watching off-spinner Corey Rocchiccioli help bowl WA to victory in the final against Tasmania.

All just 15 months after making the most recent of his five Test match appearances for Australia.

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Aged 30, Agar still has time on his hands. So it’s really all about where his head is at.

Does he want to just focus on the shorter formats where he has probably been most successful? To be fair, this is where Agar seems his happiest and he understands his game the best in one-day and Twenty20 cricket. He has a good game plan for the short formats, uses his variations of pace and keeps it simple.

But in the end it will come down to whether him losing a CA contract will give him a kick in the rear or whether he is content being based at home more often and playing domestic cricket.

There is definitely still time. And I’m the proof. When I had my serious toe injury at 30, plenty of people around me said that I wouldn’t play for Australia again, I was too old as a fast bowler, I had fallen to 10th in the pecking order so why bother.

While I used that as extra motivation at the time, I already had a plan and it was still to play for Australia. Only time will tell how Agar responds to all this.

Marcus Harris, Marcus Stoinis and Michael Neser will share his disappointment and also losing their national contracts.

It’s never a nice feeling when you miss out on a contract, whether it be for your country or State. I know the feeling of disappointment and frustration.

I was dumped by Queensland when I was younger and when I look back at it now, rightfully so. What I remember about that moment was that I was angry and upset and initially I thought I was not going to play cricket ever again.

Once I’d let it sink in a bit, a few weeks later my attitude towards being axed changed. I was 23 and still had plenty of time to achieve my goals and my major goal of playing for Australia.

I didn’t want to have any regrets, so I made a plan of a few little goals to reach to major goal. My motivation and my mindset then changed. I was doing it for myself because I wanted to be the best I could be.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 10: Ashton Agar of the Scorchers celebrates dismissing Paul Walter of the Heat  during the BBL match between the Brisbane Heat and the Perth Scorchers at The Gabba, on January 10, 2024, in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)
Ashton Agar appears better suited to shorter form cricket. Credit: Albert Perez/Getty Images

Long story short, I earned a spot in the Queensland team halfway through the 2005/06 season and played in the final, getting 10-fa in the decider when we beat Victoria. That got the attention of the national selectors and that started my journey to my major goal.

For players who have been axed or overlooked for this contract season, it doesn’t mean the dream is over. It’s just another means of motivation.

They need to ask themselves the question: have I truly done everything possible to get the best out of myself? And be honest. Have I trained as hard as I should have? Have I done all those one-percenters? Did I do the extra work needed to be the best I could possible be?

The flip side is contract opportunities for Matt Short, Aaron Hardie, Nathan Ellis and Xavier Bartlett.

For the new guys added to the contract list, remember to keep doing what you’ve been doing to be selected. Be prepared to learn and grow each day to get the best out of yourself. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake and learn from it.

Most of all, enjoy your journey.

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