Perth, Dec 3

F

ormer Australia fast-bowler Mitchell Johnson has lashed out at David Warner over his upcoming farewell Test series against Pakistan, questioning over why the left-handed opener is getting a hero’s send-off while still now owning up his role in the infamous 2018 ball-tampering scandal.

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Warner had earlier said about his wish to end his Test career when Australia face Pakistan in the third and final game of the series at the SCG in January 2024. On Sunday, Warner was named in Australia’s 14-player squad for the first Test against Pakistan at the Optus Stadium in Perth, beginning from December 14.

“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?” wrote Johnson in his column for ‘The West Australian’.

Johnson further delved deep into Warner’s involvement in the 2018 ball-tampering scandal during the Test series against South Africa at Cape Town, which meant the opener was banned for 12 months.

"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". It’s been five years and David Warner has still never really owned the ball-tampering scandal. What will fans bring for Warner? Bunnings would sell out of sandpaper.”

“Now the way he is going out is underpinned by more of the same arrogance and disrespect to our country. Warner certainly isn’t Australia’s Test captain and never deserved to be for that matter. In fact, he ends his career under a lifetime leadership ban.”

“It’s the ball-tampering disgrace in South Africa that many will never forget. 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?”

"Ultimately, an international cricket career is not just about your statistical achievements with bat or ball. How you held yourself and how you played the game will live long after you depart.”

In this year’s Ashes, Warner made only 285 runs at an average of 28.50 in five Tests. His Test average stands at 44.43, but has only averaged 31.79 since the start of 2020. Johnson also took an aim over Warner’s poor recent form in Tests, as well as on chief selector George Bailey.

“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 tail-ender would be happy with.”

“Granted he made his double century against South Africa at the MCG last summer, but they were the only runs he had scored in years. Leading into this year’s Ashes series that was the only time he had reached 50 in his previous 17 Test innings.”

“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."

Mitchell Johnson lashes out at Warner over farewell Test series against Pakistan

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