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Mitchell Johnson's rift with former cricket teammates exposed in group chat detail

The Aussie cricket great has fallen out with a number of former teammates.

Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Johnson, bowling coach Craig McDermott and Mitchell Starc.
Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Johnson, bowling coach Craig McDermott and Mitchell Starc with the World Cup trophy in 2015. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Mitchell Johnson has reportedly fallen out with a number of former cricket teammates in recent years, and a group chat involving fellow bowlers Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon is no longer used. Johnson took an extraordinary swipe at David Warner last weekend and his plans to retire from Test cricket after the SCG clash against Pakistan this summer.

Warner is hoping to farewell the red-ball game in front of his home fans after the third Test in Sydney, before making way for a new opener for three more Tests against the West Indies. But according to former teammate Johnson, Warner has no right to dictate to selectors when and where he plays.

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Johnson said Warner's recent form in the Test arena doesn't warrant selection against Pakistan, and stated that he doesn't deserve a "hero's farewell" because he still hasn't taken full accountability for the ball-tampering scandal of 2018. Johnson's remarks have stunned the cricket world in the latest example of him lashing out at his former teammates.

Earlier this year he took aim at Warner and wife Candice, saying it was "cringe" that she was always defending him in the media. He also labelled the current playing group "gutless" for the way they orchestrated the exit of Justin Langer as head coach.

According to News Corp, a once lively WhatsApp chat between Johnson, Cummins, Starc, Hazlewood and Lyon is now non-existent. The swipe over Langer's exit is believed to be the straw that broke the camel's back in regards to Johnson's 'fractured' relationship with former teammates.

Johnson, Cummins, Starc and Hazlewood were all part of Australia's victorious team at the 2015 Cricket World Cup. Johnson, Lyon, Starc and Hazlewood were the Test bowling attack when Johnson retired in 2018, with Starc and Hazlewood chairing him off the ground after his final game.

Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson.
Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson in 2015. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Usman Khawaja defends David Warner amid criticism

But the relationship has soured dramatically in recent years, with Johnson's honest opinions putting him on the outer. Discussing Johnson's comments on Monday, Usman Khawaja went in to bat for opening partner Warner.

Khawaja said he "strongly disagreed" with Johnson's column in the West Australian newspaper, adding that Warner and former captain Steve Smith have paid for their mistakes in regards to the sandpaper scandal. "Davey Warner and Steve Smith are heroes in my mind," Khawaja said.

"They missed a year of cricket through dark times in Australian cricket but they have paid their dues. No one is perfect. Mitchell Johnson isn't perfect. I am not perfect. Steve Smith is not perfect. David Warner isn't perfect.

"What they have done for the game and to grow the game far outweighs anything else they have done. So for (Johnson) to imply that Dave Warner or anyone else involved in Sandpaper-(gate) is not a hero I strongly disagree with because I believe they have paid their dues."

David Warner's camp responds to Mitchell Johnson swipe

Warner is yet to respond publicly to Johnson's remarks, but his manager James Erskine labelled the fast-bowling great "ignorant". Erskine said on SEN radio on Monday: "This reminds me of backseat drivers, they're bloody annoying, and quite frankly, we don't need it.

"He (Johnson) is basically making comments that I think are incendiary. Come up with an alternative solution, pal. If he thinks basically thinks three people did Sandpaper-gate, then he should go to the moon for holiday. I mean, it's just a joke."

Johnson also stated that selector George Bailey was too close to the decision regarding Warner's farewell because he recently played with some of the current group. But Khawaja said Bailey had brought a "breath of fresh air" to the role, pointing to Australia's vast success during his chairmanship.

With Bailey as the chairman of selectors, Australia have won the 2021-22 Ashes, retained them in 2023, won the T20 World Cup in 2021, as well as year's World Test Championship and ODI World Cup. "I'm not sure you can argue with that. (The criticism) is harsh," Khawaja said.

with AAP

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