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‘Quite disgusting, childish, condescending’: Johnson blasts Bailey over mental health comment as Warner feud gets nastier

4th December, 2023
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4th December, 2023
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Mitchell Johnson has blasted chief selector George Bailey for questioning whether he was OK in the wake of his explosive newspaper column questioning the ongoing selection of David Warner in the Test team. 

He also revealed he has fallen out with Warner over his clash on social media with his wife Candice in April with the batter sending an inflammatory text message in response.

“Some of the things that he mentioned in that message,” Johnson said on his podcast, The Mitch Johnson Show with cricket journalist Bharat Sundaresan.

“I won’t say it because that’s up to Dave to say if he wants to talk about it. 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 (for last Sunday’s column).”

The former fast bowler was furious with Bailey’s response of “I hope he’s OK” when he was asked in a media conference about Johnson’s column in The West Australian newspaper which has reignited the debate over whether Warner deserves his three-match farewell series against Pakistan based on his Test form.

“To ask if I’m OK 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,’’ Johnson said.

“I’m fine. I’m not angry. I’m not jealous. I’m just writing a piece that for me I felt like I needed to write.

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“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’ve said. That’s not the truth.

“That’s completely the opposite. I’m actually clear-minded. It sort of tries to downplay the questions that I’ve asked in that article. It seems very childish from George and condescending.’’

Johnson said Bailey had chided him recently over an article criticising the decision to rest emerging fast bowler Lance Morris from a Sheffield Shield game. 

“It was just a bit condescending. Typical George sort of stuff. When you receive at odd hours in the morning, it was disappointing.”

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 11: Mitchell Johnson and David Warner of Australia celebrate the wicket of Virat Kohli of India during day three of the First Test match between Australia and India at Adelaide Oval on December 11, 2014 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Mitchell Johnson and David Warner celebrate a wicket in 2014. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Johnson said he was not a fan of Warner declaring nearly six months ago prior to the Ashes that he wanted to retire after the SCG Test.

“I’ve heard, like everyone else has, that Dave wanted to retire from cricket at this point at the SCG. He told everyone before the Ashes series. That didn’t sit with me well again as I say, it’s my personal opinion.

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“I do have a ghost writer but I also write most of it.”

In his column, Johnson said Warner had not taken full responsibility for his role in the Sandpaper-gate affair in South Africa in 2018 that earned him a 12-month ban. 

He questioned “why a player at the centre of one of the biggest scandals in Australian cricket history warrants a hero’s send-off”.

Johnson conceded he regretted the reference to Bunnings and sandpaper – “What will fans bring for Warner? Bunnings would sell out of sandpaper”.

He backtracked by saying it was “probably distasteful” and “that was probably something that didn’t need to be said”.

“The reason that came up is that I just don’t look at statistics. I look at the whole picture. And I’m not trying to bring up those old things. But someone to get a farewell and to be in that position that he was and what they did back then, that didn’t quite sit right with me, that’s why I brought it up.’’

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 16: Australian team selector George Bailey is seen before day one of the Second Test match in the Ashes series between Australia and England at the Adelaide Oval on December 16, 2021 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

George Bailey. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

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Warner is yet to respond to the explosive remarks but his manager James Erskine has called Johnson “ignorant”.

“This reminds me of backseat drivers, they’re bloody annoying, and quite frankly, we don’t need it,” Erskine told SEN. “(Johnson) is basically making comments that I think are incendiary. 

“Come up with an alternative solution, pal. If he thinks basically three people did Sandpaper-gate, then he should go to the moon for holiday. I mean, it’s just a joke.”

Warner’s opening partner Usman Khawaja said his fellow left-hander had paid his dues for the Sandpaper-gate scandal.

Khawaja said he “strongly disagreed” with Johnson’s column, adding Warner and former skipper Steve Smith, who was also banned for a year, had paid for their mistakes.

“Davey Warner and Steve Smith are heroes in my mind,” Khawaja said.

“They missed a year of cricket through dark times in Australian cricket but they have paid their dues. 

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“No one is perfect. Mitchell Johnson isn’t perfect. I am not perfect. Steve Smith is not perfect. David Warner isn’t perfect.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 13: Usman Khawaja and David Warner of Australia leaves the ground at tea during day one of the second Test match between Australia and New Zealand at WACA on November 13, 2015 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse - CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images/Getty Images)

Usman Khawaja and David Warner. (Photo by Ryan Pierse – CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images/Getty Images)

“What they have done for the game and to grow the game far outweighs anything else they have done.

“So for (Johnson) to imply that Dave Warner or anyone else involved in Sandpaper-(gate) is not a hero I strongly disagree with because I believe they have paid their dues.”

Khawaja said he also did not agree with Johnson’s comments that chairman of selectors George Bailey was too close to Warner and the other players.

He said Bailey had brought a “breath of fresh air” to the role.

Under Bailey’s chairmanship, Australia have won the 2021-22 Ashes and retained them in 2023, and have been victorious in the 2021 T20 World Cup, this year’s World Test Championship and ODI World Cup.  

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“‘I’m not sure you can argue with that. (The criticism) is harsh,” Khawaja said. 

with AAP

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