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'Wouldn't be summer without a headline': David Warner's classy response to Johnson sledge

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8th December, 2023
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David Warner has opened up on Mitchell Johnson’s criticism of his retirement plans, saying his former teammate is entitled to his opinions, however scathing.

Warner refusing to add fuel to the fire comes as Australian captain Pat Cummins says the Test team would be “fiercely protective” of the veteran opener in the face of external attacks.

Warner is hoping to call time on an illustrious Test career after Australia faces Pakistan on his home deck at the SCG in the third and final match of the series that begins in Perth next week.

But in a newspaper column at the weekend, Johnson questioned whether Warner had been in strong enough form to set his own retirement date and opened up old wounds by referencing his role in the “Sandpapergate” ball-tampering saga.

David Warner of Australia reacts during warm up prior to the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup India 2023 Semi Final match between South Africa and Australia at Eden Gardens on November 16, 2023 in Kolkata, India. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

David Warner of Australia reacts during warm up prior to the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup India 2023 Semi Final match between South Africa and Australia at Eden Gardens on November 16, 2023 in Kolkata, India. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

The retired quick has been roundly condemned for the extent of his critique, which included suggesting that “Bunnings would sell out of sandpaper” in the lead-up to the mooted retirement Test.

But Warner himself laughed the comments off as he addressed them for the first time.

“It wouldn’t be a summer without a headline, would it?” he said at the launch of Fox Cricket’s summer coverage in Parramatta on Friday.

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“It is what it is. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinions. 

“Moving forward, we’re looking forward to a nice Test over in the west.”

Since the summer of 2020/21, Warner has managed only one Test century from 25 matches – a memorable double-hundred against South Africa in his 100th Test at the MCG in late 2022.

Australian selectors have stuck by Warner amid the lean stretch, which has admittedly featured two dismissals in the 90s, and are in the midst of determining his replacement beyond Sydney.

The playing group has been just as supportive in recent days.

“I think we protect each other a lot,” Cummins said.

“We’ve been through a lot over the years, our boys. Someone like Davey or Steve (Smith), I’ve played with them for a dozen years now so we’re fiercely protective of each other. 

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“Sometimes you’ve got to remind yourself of the amount of positive support that is out there.”

Warner, focused on ending his career on a high, said he learned long ago to knuckle down in the face of criticism like Johnson’s.

“My parents ingrained that into me,” he said.

“They taught me every day to fight and work hard.

“When you go onto the world stage and you don’t realise what comes with that, it’s a lot of media, a lot of criticism but a lot of positive. 

“I think what’s more important is what you see here today, the people coming out to support cricket.”

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Cummins is hopeful Australia can move past the saga ahead of their first home match since a successful winter that yielded wins in the ODI World Cup and World Test Championship finals as well as a drawn Ashes series in England.

The Perth Test is also set to mark Nathan Lyon’s return from the calf injury he suffered early in the Ashes.

“We’ve had arguably our most successful year ever. We’re going into a really exciting summer,” Cummins said.

“There’s so many positive things around Australian cricket I think we should be talking about and we’re focusing on that (Johnson’s column).”

© AAP

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