Silent group chat exposes sad divide between Mitchell Johnson and ex-teammates

Mitchell Johnson’s brutal criticism of David Warner has exposed a sad divide between two overlapping generations of Australian cricket greats.

The former fast-bowler sent shockwaves across the cricketing world when he took a personal swipe at Warner and the opening batter’s plans to retire.

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Johnson, who was teammates with Warner for five years, even suggested the infamous sandpaper scandal was a reason for Warner to be denied a “hero’s farewell” when his batting form has not been up to scratch.

The Ashes destroyer’s explosive column in The West Australian said “arrogance” was behind Warner’s declaration he will retire after one final New Year’s Test in Sydney.

Johnson also took a shot at national selector George Bailey, arguing he was too close to Warner and other members of the Aussie squad to make the tough call to drop Warner.

“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,” Johnson wrote.

“I’ve been sent little snippets of it,” Bailey said in response to Johnson’s column.

“I hope he’s OK.

“My only observation would be if someone can show me how being distant and unaware of what players are going through and what the plans are with their team and the coaching staff, how that’s more beneficial, I’d be all ears.”

Johnson’s tirade has exposed the chasm between the Ricky Ponting era and the current team, who got their crowning glory with wins at the World Test Championship and ODI World Cup this year.

News Corp reports a WhatsApp chat once shared by Johnson, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon was fallen silent since a furious Johnson called Cummins “gutless” over Justin Langer’s exit as coach.

Johnson, Cummins, Hazlewood and Starc were all part of Australia’s squad that won the 2015 ODI World Cup on home soil.

The left arm quick, who retired from international cricket in 2015, has the sixth most Test wickets by an Australian with 313 scalps.

Johnson was at the crease when Cummins hit the winning runs in his Test debut against South Africa in 2011.

He was also part of several memorable Australian victories, including series wins in South Africa in 2009 and 2014, as well as the famous Ashes whitewash in 2013-14 when he took 37 wickets.

But his spray towards Warner and Bailey, both former teammates and part of that 2015 World Cup triumph, means a 10-year reunion could be seriously awkward, if it even happens.

Travis Head said after the recent World Cup triumph that he couldn’t wait for the reunions. It might not be the same case for everyone.

Cricket world reacts to Johnson spray

Former Australian captain Michael Clarke was surprised by the comments, saying he had not seen evidence of significant “beef” between the pair when he played with them.

“In every sporting team. Not everybody gets on. Not everyone is best friends,” Clarke said on the Big Sports Breakfast.

“Dave is a strong character, Mitch is a strong character, (they) went hard at each other in the nets. “I saw that but I couldn’t sit here and say they had beef against one another when we played.”

Tim Paine said on SEN: “I think if you read between the lines, him and Davey Warner clearly don’t get along.

“So it’s a bit easier for him to fire a few shots at him.

“They’re just different people. I have nothing to shed on that. They’re just different. I’m only reading between the lines. Just reading that tells me that they probably don’t get along. But again some of his points about his (Warner’s) stats and his position in the team and him getting a little bit of extra time were probably ruined by the personal nature of it.

“And bringing sandpaper back into it. And saying David being a person who used his leadership role for power. I played with David and he certainly didn’t do that.

“I thought the article was pretty good. There were a lot of questions that people wanted to ask and it created a lot of interest and a lot of thought, even from someone like me.

“I thought he just went a bit too far on some things that it ruined it for me. The George stuff, I just found it a bit unnecessary.”

Paine even defended Bailey’s decision to stand down from the decision that axed Paine as captain, despite that move ultimately adding to the push from senior figures for Paine to be dumped from the team.

“If you go through what he (Johnson) said he raised some pretty valid points,” Paine said.

“The George stuff I didn’t love. I thought that was a bit unnecessary.”

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