Mitchell Johnson has reignited his feud with former teammate David Warner – calling him arrogant and disrespectful” – and given chief selector George Bailey a whack as well as Warner prepares for a farewell series against Pakistan.
Warner declared earlier in the year that this series would be his final one in the Test arena – although he was criticised for presuming he would still be in the selection frame after a run of poor form.
Johnson, who had previously been involved in a spat with Candice Warner, calling her support for her husband during his battles with form “cringe”, unleashed on David in a column for The West Australian newspaper on Sunday.
“As we prepare for David Warner’s farewell series, can somebody please tell me why?” wrote Johnson.
“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?
“Yes, he has a decent overall record and some say is one of our greatest opening bats. But his past three years in Test cricket have been ordinary, with a batting average closer to what a tailender would be happy with.
“It’s the ball tampering disgrace in South Africa that many will never forget. Although Warner wasn’t alone in Sandpapergate, he was at the time a senior member of the team and someone who liked to use his perceived power as a ‘leader’.
“Does this really warrant a swan song, 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.
“It’s been five years and 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.”
Johnson, who played alongside Warner for five years, also delivered a savage sledge at Warner comparing his farewell to the end of Steve Waugh’s career, where fans took red hankies to wave in Waugh’s final Test.
“What will fans bring for Warner? Bunnings would sell out of sandpaper,” Johnson wrote.
Two years ago Johnson skewered Pat Cummins for his role in the sacking of Justin Langer as coach, and on Sunday he also turned his focus to Bailey.
“When then-captain Tim Paine’s career was ending over the sexting controversy, chairman of selectors George Bailey said he didn’t want to be part of deciding Paine’s fate because the pair were close friends,” Johnson wrote.
“Bailey said he would leave it to then coach Justin Langer and fellow selector Tony Dodemaide to work it out. What courage,” Johnson wrote.
“The handling of Warner in recent years, who played with Bailey in all three forms, raises the question of whether Bailey was simply too quickly out of playing and into the job and too close to some of the players.
“I also wonder what the role of the head selector is these days. It seems to have moved to be a part of the inner sanctum, rather than standing aside from it. There are now throw downs for the players, golfing together and celebrating wins to all hours.”
When Bailey was asked about the column, it prompted a cold response. “I’ve been sent little snippets of it – I hope he’s OK,” Bailey said.
Johnson criticised Bailey for being too close to the players as a selector.
“My only question would be … if someone can show me how being distant and unaware of what players are going through and what the plans are with their team and the coaching staff, how that’s more beneficial, I’d be all ears,” Bailey said.
“Ultimately we still think (Warner) is in our best 11 players to win the first Test. We think David is the right person.”
Speaking after the squad for the first Test against Pakistan was named on Sunday, Bailey said Warner’s ability to put the opposition under pressure with his batting is “pretty special and not to be taken lightly”.
Bailey said it would be impossible to replace Warner as an opener, comparing it to when leg-spinner Shane Warne retired.
“I’d put David in that category, the way he’s opened the batting for Australia for such a long period,” Bailey said.