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Mitchell Johnson: Does David Warner deserve to sign off from Tests on own terms?

Mitchell Johnson (left) played 26 Tests alongside David Warner (David Davies/PA)
Mitchell Johnson (left) played 26 Tests alongside David Warner (David Davies/PA)

Mitchell Johnson has launched on astonishing broadside at David Warner, questioning whether his former Australia team-mate deserves to sign off from Tests on his own terms.

Warner has been Australia’s linchpin opener for over a decade and key to their World Cup triumph, but he expressed his wish to retire from Tests at the end of their series against Pakistan in Sydney next month.

He has been named in their squad for the first match in Perth, starting on December 14, despite averaging 28.9 in his last 25 Tests, amassing just one hundred – albeit a double ton – in that time.

But Warner was criticised for trying to organise his own farewell by former fast bowler Johnson, who thinks the 37-year-old is undeserving of one, pointing to his role in the 2018 ball-tampering saga.

In his column for The West Australian, Johnson, who represented Australia 256 times in all formats, wrote: “It’s been five years and David Warner has still never really owned the ball-tampering scandal.

“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.

“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?”

Johnson, who played 26 Tests alongside Warner including the 2013/14 Ashes in which the former left-arm fast bowler terrorised England, also censured Australia’s selectors.

David Warner in action against England
Warner has averaged 28.9 in his last 25 Tests (Mike Egerton/PA)

George Bailey, Australia’s chief selector and another former team-mate of Johnson, was accused of being too close to some players.

“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,” Johnson added.

Responding to Johnson’s critique, Bailey told a press conference: “Ultimately, we still think (Warner) is in our best 11 players to win the first Test.”