Cricket-Australia pace ace Johnson retires after losing hunger

* Johnson retires after 73rd test

* Twice ICC Player of the Year

* Fourth on list of Australian test wicket-takers (writes through with Johnson quotes)

By David Gray

PERTH, Nov 17 (Reuters) - Australia's Mitchell Johnson, the most devastating fast bowler of his era, retired from all international cricket at the conclusion of the second test against New Zealand on Tuesday because he had lost his hunger for a challenge.

The 34-year-old left-armer, who was named International Cricket Council (ICC) Player of the Year in 2009 and 2014, made the announcement before the day's play at the WACA and took two wickets to finish with 313 victims at an average of 28.40.

That tally puts him fourth on the list of Australian test wicket-takers behind only Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Dennis Lillee, who discovered Johnson as a raw 17-year-old and described him as a "once in a lifetime prospect".

Johnson's fortunes over his test career mirrored those of his country, in his pomp from his debut in 2007 to 2009 with a return to form in his golden season of 2013-14.

In between there was a long fallow period, triggered by injury and a loss of confidence when he became a figure of fun, particularly among the fans of England.

Johnson had the last laugh, though, when he fired Australia to a 5-0 Ashes sweep in 2013-14 as well as helping the hosts to a fifth World Cup triumph in the 50-over format earlier this year.

"I was really happy and proud to finish off really well," he told reporters after taking 2-20 and making 29 in his final batting innings.

"I really enjoyed myself batting and bowling today, I guess you have that weight lifted off, you just go out and have some fun.

"I just lost that hunger on those tough days, that's where my decision came, that's something I really used to enjoy about test cricket, the challenge of those difficult days and I just wasn't enjoying it."

Born and raised in Queensland, Johnson ended up playing his state cricket for Western Australia and so it is appropriate he played his 73rd and final test match at the WACA.

Returns of 3-105 and 1-58 in the first test against New Zealand in Brisbane last week prompted Johnson to say he was thinking about retirement every day.

Figures of 1-157 in New Zealand's first innings in the second test, the most expensive by an Australian bowler in a test at the WACA, sealed the deal.

"The first innings bowling was my final decision," he added. "It's something I've been thinking about for a year on and off, I guess after the World Cup I thought that was a good time to go out of one-day cricket.

"But with new guys in the team I thought I could help, being a senior player, but I just felt I couldn't compete any more at this level.

"I felt like I couldn't be the best for this team. I didn't want to continue playing at a standard that wasn't good enough."

He also took 239 wickets in 153 one-day internationals at the cost of 25.26 apiece and 38 in 30 Twenty20 internationals.

Among the highlights of his career was his stunning role the 2013-14 Ashes triumph, when he took 37 wickets.

"That was definitely a huge moment, I would have had regrets if I didn't come back there," he said.

"I felt like I hadn't given my best at that point in my career. It was an exciting time in my career and something I'll always cherish." (Writing by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney; Editing by John O'Brien)