Mitchell Johnson criticized chief selector George Bailey for questioning his well-being after he published a newspaper column that questioned the selection of David Warner in the Test team. Johnson also revealed that he has a strained relationship with Warner following a social media clash between Warner and Johnson’s wife Candice in April. Johnson appeared on his podcast, The Mitch Johnson Show with cricket journalist Bharat Sundaresan, where he discussed receiving an inflammatory text message from Warner. He expressed his disappointment over Warner’s words and indicated that the message was the driving force behind his newspaper column.
Johnson was particularly irate at Bailey’s response, during a media conference, saying, “I hope he’s OK” in reference to Johnson’s contentious column. Johnson deemed Bailey’s remark as an attempt to discredit his article by associating it with mental health, which he found “disgusting” and “condescending”. Furthermore, Johnson disclosed that Bailey had recently reprimanded him for criticizing the decision to rest emerging fast bowler Lance Morris from a Sheffield Shield game.
In his column, Johnson raised concerns about Warner’s prior announcement of retirement prior to the Ashes. He accused Warner of not taking full responsibility for his role in the Sandpaper-gate affair in South Africa which led to a 12-month ban. Johnson admitted that he regretted mentioning Bunnings and sandpaper and said that the comment was “distasteful”.
Warner’s manager, James Erskine, called Johnson “ignorant” for his comments and urged him to propose an alternative. He found Johnson’s remarks to be “incendiary” and asserted that Warner had “paid his dues” for his mistakes. Additionally, Warner’s opening partner, Usman Khawaja, defended Warner and former skipper Steve Smith, saying they had “paid their dues” for their involvement in the Sandpaper-gate scandal.
Khawaja also contradicted Johnson’s assertion that Bailey was too close to Warner and the other players, stating that Bailey had brought a refreshing perspective to his role as chief selector and had allowed the team to achieve significant victories. Khawaja indicated that the criticism was unwarranted and harsh.