Starc’s 1am text gives Johnson drive for T20 World Cup

Joel Gould |

Brisbane Heat left-arm quick Spencer Johnson has modelled his game on Mitchell Starc but it is a text he received in a moment of despair from his idol that has him determined to return to the Australian side.

The 27-year-old, who made his T20 and ODI debut for Australia this year, tore his right hamstring for the second time in three weeks on debut in the one-dayer against India in Indore in September.

Laying in his hotel room that night and unable to sleep, Johnson was down in the dumps until Starc sent him a memorable message.   

“Starcy gave me my ODI cap and there were some nice words said,  but it is what he did after the game that I’ll never forget,” Johnson told AAP.

“Unfortunately I did my hammie in that game. I was staring at the ceiling at 1am and my phone lights up. 

“Sure enough it was a message from Starcy saying, ‘well done. You’ve had a a helluva 12 months. Be proud of what you’ve done and look for the silver lining when you get back to Australia and try and get yourself right’. 

“To get a message like that was really helpful and pretty cool.

“Starcy is number one. I watched him for the last 12 years and tried to model my game around him.”

Johnson, who had a breakout BBL debut series last summer where his outstanding late over bowling was a highlight, has heeded Starc’s advice and is confident he will be right to play in the Heat’s BBL opener against Melbourne Stars on Thursday night.

Johnson initially injured the hamstring at training in South Africa after he played in two T20 internationals. 

That was a minor grade one tear but the second was more serious.

He said his rehab since returning from India had ticked over 10 weeks, with no stone unturned in his recovery quest.

“We actually had a couple of PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma) injections where they take your blood from somewhere else, spin it and inject it straight back into the muscle strain,” he said.

“That was painful for a couple of weeks but the hammie is feeling good now. It should be right to go for the first BBL game.”

If Johnson can have another successful series he will put himself right in the frame for the T20 World Cup in the United States and West Indies next year.

“It is absolutely a goal. The Aussies had great success in India, winning the ODI World Cup, and I didn’t miss a ball of it,” Johnson said.

“Sitting on the couch watching was driving me to return…hopefully fit and performing well to be available to get picked next year.

“Last year I was an unknown and there was no real expectation. The Heat gave me a chance and I was thrown into those death overs and surge overs and that held me in really good stead for this year.”