MELBOURNE: Former Australia pacer Mitchell Johnson has revealed that he received a “pretty bad” text message from his ex-teammate David Warner earlier this year, which prompted him to criticise Australia’s Test opener in his column, and he also branded selectors chairman George Bailey’s answer “quite disgusting”.
In his editorial published in the West Australian a few days ago, the former speedster questioned why Warner has the authority to choose his retirement date despite his terrible form with the bat in Tests. Warner had stated his intentions to retire from the Test format earlier this year, stating that he would be keen to bring his career in red-ball format to an end at his home ground, the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).
As reported by ESPNcricinfo, when Johnson wrote an article in the West Australian questioning why Warner was getting a hero’s send-off in Test cricket despite his poor form and whether the chair of selectors Bailey was too close to the players, he sparked an extraordinary public slanging match among the former Australia team-mates.
During a press conference following the announcement of Australia’s Test squad for the first Test against Pakistan on Sunday, Bailey was asked to reply to Johnson’s essay and answered, “I hope he’s okay”.
Warner has not reacted publicly, but his manager James Erskine hit back at Johnson. Erskine hit back at Johnson, stating that his questioning Warner’s selection isn’t logical. Meanwhile, Usman Khawaja also defended the veteran opener and said he “strongly disagreed” with Johnson’s statement, saying that the opener and former skipper Steve Smith, who was also banned for a year, had paid the price for their blunders.
As reported by ESPNcricinfo, on Tuesday, Johnson appeared on his podcast The Mitchell Johnson Cricket Show and claimed that the foundation of his attack on Warner came from a text message he received in April, following another article Johnson wrote in which he questioned both Warner’s form and Candice Warner’s public defence of her husband’s Test place.
“I got a message from Dave, which was quite personal. I tried to ring to try and talk to him about it, which I’ve always been open to. I know I’ve been open to the guys when I finished playing. I said if I’m in the media and writing things or saying things that you don’t like, just come and speak to me,” Johnson was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.
“It was never a personal thing then until this point. This is probably what drove me to write the article as well, part of it. It was definitely a factor. Some of the stuff that was said in that, I won’t say it. I think that’s up to Dave to say it if he wants to talk about it. There was some stuff in there that was extremely disappointing, what he said, and pretty bad to be honest”, he added.
Johnson went on to say that his attack on Bailey was sparked in part by an overnight text message he received from Australia’s chairman of selectors in response to another article he recently wrote in which he questioned why Western Australia quick Lance Morris had been withdrawn from a Sheffield Shield game to manage his workloads ahead of the Test summer.
“He had sent me a message after the Lance Morris article that I wrote. It was just a little bit condescending. When you receive it at all hours of the morning, it was pretty disappointing,” Johnson said. Johnson was also enraged by Bailey’s response to his Sunday article, which he misinterpreted as a dig at his mental state.
“To ask if I’m okay because I’ve had mental health issues is pretty much downplaying my article and putting it on mental health, which is quite disgusting, I think. It’s basically having a dig at someone’s mental health and saying that I must have something going on, a mental health issue has made me say what I have said. That’s not the truth. That’s completely the opposite. I’m actually clear-minded. I’m okay. I want to make sure everyone knows that I’m okay and I’m actually in a good headspace”, Johnson said.
“I’m not angry, I’m not jealous. I’m just writing a piece that I felt like I needed to write. I probably was set off by getting a message from him at all hours of the morning and not having the respect to make a phone call”, he added.
“I wouldn’t say I was hurt by the messages. I was disappointed and it was unexpected. It probably just threw me off a bit. The thing I struggle with the most is not having those phone calls. I would prefer to have a conversation with those guys face-to-face or over the phone. Preferably face-to-face would be the best way to do it. So to get those messages were to me, very disrespectful”, he added.
Australia will face Pakistan in a three-match Test series, with the first game starting on December 14. (ANI)