Mitchell Johnson's furious swipe at ABC after losing commentary job

·Sports Editor
·3-min read
Mitchell Johnson and wife Jessica Bratich Johnson, pictured here at the 2019 Australian Cricket Awards.
Mitchell Johnson and wife Jessica Bratich Johnson at the 2019 Australian Cricket Awards. (Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images)

Aussie cricket great Mitchell Johnson has taken a swipe at the ABC after being forced to quit his radio commentary job over a 'conflict of interest'.

The Australian first reported on Friday that Johnson had been forced out by the ABC due to his association with betting agency Bet Nation, which broke the national broadcaster's strict rules.

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The 40-year-old walked away from his commentary gig when told he couldn't have dealings with commercial gambling companies while working for the ABC.

Johnson, who took 313 Test wickets for Australia, was scheduled to be behind the microphone during the Aussies' three-match ODI series against Zimbabwe starting on Sunday.

“I have really enjoyed working with the ABC team over recent seasons and was looking forward to doing it again,” Johnson told News Corp.

“There seems to be a lot of hypocrisy that goes with this rule. I don’t understand and you start to wonder about what you can and can’t say if you are calling for them.

“It’s blown me away a little bit: do we have to make sure we have to align with the ABC’s moral compass? There’s nothing I can do about it … that’s the rule and I guess I’m not going to work with them.”

Johnson's manager Tony Box said: "When we explained the policy, Mitch was extremely disappointed.

"He felt there was a clear double standard in that individuals are being punished yet it's still OK for the sports themselves and the ABC to be funded via sponsorship or tax revenue from the same industry.

"He loves doing radio and loved working with the team. He was clear in his instructions not to pursue more opportunities with the ABC with this policy in place."

Brendon Julian and Mitchell Johnson, pictured here in commentary for Fox Sports in 2018.
Brendon Julian and Mitchell Johnson in commentary for Fox Sports in 2018. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Cricket world reacts to Mitchell Johnson news

Veteran broadcaster Glenn Mitchell, who previously worked for the ABC, tweeted: "Must say I find it odd the ABC has banned Mitchell Johnson from being on its cricket commentary team because he has a relationship with a betting company.

"I can’t see him promoting it during the coverage AND the government reaps massive revenue from gambling."

Other cricket fans were also left stunned by the news.

According to The West Australian, Johnson has been contacted by Triple M about joining their team for the Australian summer of cricket.

Johnson's exit leaves a significant hole in the ABC commentary team after iconic broadcaster Ian Chappell announced his retirement earlier this month.

"I had a minor stroke a few years back and I got off lucky. But it just makes everything harder," Chappell said.

"And I just thought with all the travel and walking up stairs and things like that, it's all just going to get harder.

"Then I read what Rabbits [recently retired rugby league commentator Ray Warren] said with retirement and it really struck home when I read the bit where he said, 'you're always one sentence closer to making a mistake'."

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