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Mitchell Johnson reveals ‘extremely disappointing’ text led to Warner article, hits out at mental health comment

Mitchell Johnson David Warner
by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Mitchell Johnson has said his attack on David Warner in his column this week was sparked by a personal message from the opener following another one of his articles earlier this year.

Speaking on his podcast The Mitchell Johnson Cricket Show, Johnson spoke about what drove him to write the piece in the West Australian which criticised Warner’s continued selection in Australia’s Test side. The article sparked significant reaction from within Australia, with opinions divided on the content of Johnson’s outburst.

“People have touched on that there seems to be a personal side to it which there is as well,” Johnson said. “But when I’ve written my articles I’ve always tried to do it in a way that I can back things up.


“From the message I got in April, I think it was around the time that Candace [Warner] had said her bit on the back page about there not being openers good enough to take the position. I responded to that and then I got a message from Dave which was quite personal. I tried to ring him to try and talk to him about it – when I finished playing I said if I’m in the media and writing things and saying things that you don’t like just come and speak to me. It was never a personal thing then until probably this point… Some of the stuff that was said, I won’t say it because I think that’s up to Dave if he wants to talk about it, but there was some stuff in there that was extremely disappointing and pretty bad to be honest.”

Johnson also explained why he chose to also criticise George Bailey, the chairman of selectors for Australia men, in his article.

“That was a bit of a driver and a bit with George as well,” said Johnson. “He sent me a message after the Lance Morris article I wrote [Johnson argued Morris should be rested during the Sheffield Shield earlier this year] and it was just a little bit condescending and when you receive it at all hours of the morning that’s pretty disappointing.

Bailey responded to Johnson’s column in a press conference this week ahead of Australia’s series against Pakistan, by saying “I hope he’s okay,” referring to Johnson. Speaking in 2020, Johnson revealed he had struggled with depression throughout his life. Johnson labelled Bailey’s suggestion that his article had been motivated by this “disgusting”.

“I’m okay, that’s another thing, to make sure everyone knows that I’m okay, I’m actually in a good head space. That’s another point which was really disappointing, to ask if I’m okay because I’ve had mental health issues, it’s pretty much downplaying my article and putting it on mental health which is quite disgusting I think. But I’m fine, I’m not angry, I’m not jealous, I’m just writing a piece I felt like I needed to write.

“It’s basically having a dig at someone’s mental health and that I must have something going on, a mental health issue that’s made me say what I’ve said. That’s not the truth that’s completely the opposite. I’m actually clear minded and it’s based on my interactions I’ve had with him in recent times. But it tries to downplay the questions that I’ve asked in that article and to also say that I’m not allowed to have an opinion. The Lance Morris article was based on my experience as well. I went through back fractures, I had four of them and I feel like I’ve got this position because of my experience… So it seems very childish from George to say what he said but also extremely condescending. There are a lot of words I could use.”

Asked whether he would try to speak to either Warner or Bailey about his latest comments during the first Test of Australia’s home at Perth later this month, Johnson said:” It might be a bit awkward, might not be either. It’s a hard question to answer at this time because obviously it’s pretty fresh. I feel like they’ve made their bed, both those guys and they’ve made it pretty clear to me where I stand with them.

“I’ll always try my best to treat people the best I can and how I want to be treated. At the moment I’m not going to go and make an effort and waste energy on things that are probably going to be useless anyway. I don’t think there’s much that I could say or do, I could look at it and go, I apologise but what am I apologising for? I guess the only thing that I’m apologising for is I made it a bit personal but I feel like what I said is also warranted with the personal messaging.”

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