David Warner has given a classy take on the savage recent swipe from former Australian Test teammate Mitchell Johnson, after breaking his silence on a feud that has sparked debate across the cricket world. Johnson raised eyebrows after accusing Warner of arrogance, questioning his form and place in the Test side and suggesting he did not deserve to dictate the terms of his Test farewell.
Warner said he wanted to retire from red-ball cricket after his home Test against Pakistan in Sydney - the third match of the series that gets underway in Perth next week. In an article for the West Australian, Johnson argued that Warner had not 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.
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Johnson has been roundly criticised for the personal nature of his attack on Warner after suggesting "Bunnings would sell out of sandpaper" in the lead-up to the veteran's likely farewell at the SCG. Addressing his former teammate's brutal swipe for the first time on Friday, Warner insisted Johnson was entitled to his own opinion - regardless of how harsh it was.
"It wouldn't be a summer without a headline, would it?" Warner joked at the launch of Fox Cricket's summer coverage in Parramatta. "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."
Warner's classy response came ahead of Australia's first Test against Pakistan starting at Perth's Optus Stadium on Thursday. The veteran opener will be desperate to use the series to rediscover the form that has seen him take a stranglehold on the Test opening position for so many years.
The 37-year-old will start the summer opening with Usman Khawaja despite having scored just one Test century since January 2020, a memorable 200 against South Africa in last year's Boxing Day match. Warner averages just 28 in Test cricket since the 2019-20 summer.
However, the batter is fully focused on ending his Test career on a high and says he learned how to deal with criticism around his form a long time ago - by knuckling down and working hard. "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."
Pat Cummins throws support behind David Warner
Aussie captain Pat Cummins is among Warner's biggest supporters and revealed the playing group has been right behind the veteran batter. "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. Sometimes you've got to remind yourself of the amount of positive support that is out there."
The Aussie skipper said he couldn't understand the motivation behind Johnson's attack on Warner but was at pains to point out that we should be focusing on a season of tremendous success for Australian cricket, rather than the negative headlines. “We have played with hundreds and hundreds of people over our careers and for the most part everyone is fantastic," Cummins said. It is hard to say (what Mitch’s motivation is). You have to ask Mitch. But there are so many things we should be celebrating about Australian cricket at the moment.
“Our men’s and women’s teams have had arguably our most successful seasons ever. We are going into a really exciting summer. There are so many exciting things about Australian cricket at the moment and I think we should be focusing and talking about that.”
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