EXPLAINED: Mitchell Johnson Vs David Warner Spat Started After Opening Batter's Wife Candice's Outburst And Honest Take On Husband's Form David and Candice Warner. On the right, Mitchell Johnson. (Image: X/Instagram)

In the last one week, the Australian cricket team has gone from celebrating the World Cup win to an ugly war of words among Ex-players. This is all thanks to former pacer Mitchell Johnson’s brutal analysis of David Warner’s Test form. In a column for newspaper The Western Australian, Johnson slammed Warner’s selection in the Test squad for the three-match series v Pakistan at home, which starts on December 14 in Perth. 

Warner has struggled in Tests in the alst two years, averaging a meagre 32.75 in the last 12 Tests. Johnson feels that his performance with the bat as been worse than that of a tail-ender. On top of it, he refurbished the talks of ball-tampering scandal that had rocked Australian cricket back in 2018. Warner was the main accuse of the scandal and was subsequently banned by Cricket Australia for 1 year.

Also Read | ‘Thank God Mitchell Johnson Is Not Test Selector’: David Warner’s Manager Hits Back At Former Australia Cricketer For Sandpaper Gate Comment

Below, read the main chunk from Johnson’s column in the newspaper that started the ongoing feud between Warner and Johnson. 

“It’s been five years and David Warner has still never really owned the ball-tampering scandal. Now the way he is going out is underpinned by more of the same arrogance and disrespect to our country…As we prepare for David Warner’s farewell series, can somebody please tell me why?”

“Why a struggling Test opener gets to nominate his own retirement date. And why a player at the centre of one of the biggest scandals in Australian cricket history warrants a hero’s send-off? … his past three years in Test cricket have been ordinary, with a batting average closer to what a tail-ender would be happy with … Does this really warrant a swansong, a last hurrah against Pakistan that was forecast a year in advance as if he was bigger than the game and the Australian cricket team?”

Mitchell Johnson has not held back on his thoughts about David Warner! pic.twitter.com/GBJHZ1Xb2I— Sky Sports Cricket (@SkyCricket) December 3, 2023

Reacting to these statements, chief selector George Bailey told media that he hopes Johnson is okay. This comment has not gone down well with Johnson, who feels that Bailey has mocked his mental health struggles in the past with this jibe.

Usman Khawaja, Warner’s teammate and buddy, has defended the opening batter, saying that both Steve Smith and Warner are heroes of Australian cricket. To say that they are not because of their involvement in ball-tampering episode is wrong. 

Why prompted Johnson to write this article?

In April this year, Warner’s wife Candice spoke Fox News on her husband’s diminishing form in Tests. She had said, “If Dave doesn’t perform in that first Test, who do they bring in that’s better? His form wasn’t great that last Ashes. Stuart Broad had his number I think ten times. So it didn’t look good for him. And he hasn’t performed well over there in the past. But who do you put in?”

A few days later, Johnson wrote an article in Sydney Morning Herald, slamming the comment made by Candice. He wrote that while Candice’s loyalty is admirable, it is all a bit weird and cringy to say that Warner cannot be replaced for now in Australian main Test XI. “I hate that argument. If players were only judged on their previous achievements then Dennis Lillee would still be opening the bowling for Australia and Ricky Ponting would be batting at No. 3,” Johnson had written. 

The column yet again did not go down well with Warners. Candice in an interview to News Corp said that the only way Johnson can make headlines was by using David’s name.  “Everyone takes his comments with a grain of salt. They don’t have a lot of merit,” Candice had said.

It was around this time, as per Johnson, that Warner sent a text message to the former teammate, which is termed as ‘really bad’ by the fast bowler. Johnson admits that this text message is a factor on why he is so harsh on Warner in his new column. “There was some stuff in there, which was extremely disappointing what he said, and pretty bad, to be honest. That sort of was a bit of a driver,” Johnson said about Warner’s text message on The Mitchell Johnson Cricket Show podcast.

Tim Paine, former Australian Test captain, said that while Johnson put forth some of his valid criticism beautifully, he went bit too far at times in his column. Another former captain Michael Clarke felt that both Warner and Johnson are strong characters and not everyone is best friends. 

Johnson, in his podcast, mentioned that 

“It’s a hard question to answer at the moment because it’s so fresh,” he said in the podcast. “I sort of feel like they’ve made their bed, both those guys, and they’ve made it really clear to me where I stand with them.”

Read More