The bitter feud dividing Australian cricket was sparked by a “pretty bad” text message from David Warner, Mitchell Johnson has claimed.
The former Australia bowler has also described selector George Bailey’s response to his criticisms as “disgusting”.
Johnson was fiercely critical of former team-mate Warner in a column for the West Australian last week, questioning whether he deserved to retire from Test cricket on his own terms.
He has now revealed that a message from Warner earlier this year sparked the attack. Johnson had again questioned Warner’s place in the team, and the batsman’s wife, media personality and former athlete Candice, defending him on TV show the Back Page.
“I got a message from Dave, which was quite personal,” Johnson said on his regular podcast, The Mitchell Johnson Cricket Show. “I tried to ring to try and talk to him about it, which I’ve always been open to. I know I’ve been open to the guys when I finished playing. I said if I’m in the media and writing things or saying things that you don’t like, just come and speak to me.
“It was never a personal thing then until this point. This is probably what drove me to write the article as well, part of it. It was definitely a factor. Some of the stuff that was said in that, I won’t say it. I think that’s up to Dave to say it if he wants to talk about it. There was some stuff in there that was extremely disappointing, what he said, and pretty bad to be honest.”
Johnson was also critical of Bailey in his article this week, questioning whether he was standing by Warner because they were former team-mates. This dig, Johnson revealed, was also prompted by a “condescending” text message.
In response to his article this week, Bailey had said “I hope he’s OK” about Johnson, which he took as a “disgusting” dig about his well-documented poor mental health.
“To ask if I’m OK because I’ve had mental-health issues is pretty much downplaying my article and putting it on mental health, which is quite disgusting, I think,” Johnson said.
“It’s basically having a dig at someone’s mental health and saying that I must have something going on, a mental-health issue has made me say what I have said. That’s not the truth. That’s completely the opposite. I’m actually clear-minded.
“I’m OK. I want to make sure everyone knows that I’m OK and I’m actually in a good headspace.
“I’m not angry, I’m not jealous. I’m just writing a piece that I felt like I needed to write. I probably was set off by getting a message from him at all hours of the morning and not having the respect to make a phone call.
“I wouldn’t say I was hurt by the messages. I was disappointed and it was unexpected. It probably just threw me off a bit.
“The thing I struggle with the most is not having those phone calls. I would prefer to have a conversation with those guys face-to-face or over the phone. Preferably face-to-face would be the best way to do it. So to get those messages were to me, very disrespectful.”