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Australia v Pakistan 2023/24

‘I hope he is okay’ – Chief selector George Bailey responds to Mitchell Johnson’s explosive column

Reactions to Mitchell Johnson's column
by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Mitchell Johnson’s explosive column on David Warner’s farewell Test series has received a lot of reactions from the Australian cricket media, as well as from Australia’s chief selector George Bailey.

In his Sunday column for The West Australian, former Australia fast bowler Mitchell Johnson criticised David Warner for wanting a farewell Test and George Bailey for granting him the wish by selecting him for the Test series against Pakistan. The three-match series starts on December 14 and will end with the third Test starting January 3 at the Sydney Cricket Ground, Warner’s home venue.

Johnson was severe in his criticism, and questioned the need for a farewell Test series for someone who has not performed well in Tests in the last few years and was involved in the infamous ball-tampering scandal in 2018.


“It’s been five years and David Warner has still never really owned the ball-tampering scandal,” Johnson wrote. “Now the way he is going out is underpinned by more of the same arrogance and disrespect to our country. 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?”

Johnson’s explosive column has garnered the attention of fans around the world, particularly in the Australian media. In fact, Bailey himself responded to questions about Johnson’s column in a press conference on Sunday after the Australian squad for the first Test against Pakistan was announced.

“I’ve been sent little snippets of it,” Bailey said regarding Johnson’s column. “I hope he’s okay.”

Justifying Warner’s selection for the Pakistan Test, Bailey said, “Ultimately, we still think he’s in our best 11 players to win the first Test. I think Test cricket, in terms of the way that the World Test Championship points is set up, each Test is critical.

“There’s points on the line for each and every game. So our focus is very much on picking the 11 that we think can do the job and obviously there’s roles within that for each individual and how that actually structures up the team as a whole and we think David is the right person for that for this Test.”

In his column, Johnson also questioned the closeness of Bailey to the Australian team and the players and wrote that he might have assumed the selector’s role too soon after retirement: “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.

“I also wonder what the role of the head selector is these days. It seems to have moved to be a part of the inner sanctum rather than standing aside from it. There’s now throw downs for the players, golfing together and celebrating wins to all hours,” wrote Johnson.

Regarding this, Bailey didn’t have much to say except posing a question in return. “To be honest, I don’t think now is probably the appropriate time to go into it,” he said. “My only question would be, or observation will be, if someone can show me how being distant and unaware of what players are going through and what the plans are with the team and with the coaching staff, how that’s more beneficial, I’d be all ears.”

Bailey took over the role of chairman of selectors from Trevor Hohns in 2021, and has since overseen the selection of Australian teams that have gone on to win the T20 World Cup, the World Test Championship, and the World Cup.

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