Melbourne: David Warner has shrugged off Mitchell Johnson’s withering criticism of his selection in Australia’s Test squad as a “headline” for the home summer, saying his former teammate is entitled to his opinion.
In an incendiary column Johnson questioned Warner’s place in the side for the Pakistan series, citing his waning output in Test cricket in recent years.
Johnson also said Warner had not taken full responsibility for the 2018 Newlands ball-tampering scandal and questioned whether he should be given a “hero’s send-off” in the third Test in Sydney, which the left-hander has nominated as his last.
“It would not be a summer of cricket without a headline,” Warner said at a broadcaster event in Sydney on Friday.
“Everyone is entitled to an opinion. But moving forward, we are looking to a nice Test over in the west.”
Johnson’s comments triggered a fierce reaction in Australian media, with some pundits condemning the former Test quick.
He later revealed his column in the West Australian newspaper was motivated in part by a personal spat with Warner and expressed regret for some of the content.
Teammates Usman Khawaja and Glenn Maxwell threw their support behind Warner this week, and captain Pat Cummins said the squad had rallied around the batsman.
“I think we protect each other a lot. We have been through a lot over the years,” Cummins told reporters at the event.
“I’ve played alongside someone like Davey or Steve (Smith) for a dozen years now.
“(We are) fiercely protective of each other.
“It is hard to say (what Johnson’s motivation is). You have to ask Mitch. But there are so many things we should be celebrating about Australian cricket at the moment.”
Cummins also defended selector George Bailey, who Johnson said was too close to Warner and the players in general.
“George has been fantastic,” said Cummins, who led Australia to a record-extending sixth one-day World Cup title in India three weeks ago.
“I have never seen a selector be as hands-on and as impressive as George has been.”
First Test on December 14
Australia play the first of three Tests against Pakistan in Perth from December 14.
Meanwhile, Matt Renshaw hit an unbeaten 136 against Pakistan in a timely reminder to Australian selectors on Friday of his credentials to take over from Warner when the veteran quits Test cricket.
The 27-year-old Renshaw resumed day three for the Prime Minister’s XI on 18 and patiently compiled his century from 251 balls.
It helped steer the home side to 367-4 at stumps in Canberra, 24 runs behind Pakistan, who declared at 391-9 on the back of skipper Shan Masood’s 201 not out.
The four-day match at Manuka Oval has been billed as a “bat-off” to replace the opener Warner, with Cameron Bancroft and Marcus Harris also in contention.
Warner has indicated he plans to quit the longer format after the third Test against Pakistan at the Sydney Cricket Ground in January.
Grabbing the chance
Bancroft and Harris got the nod to open ahead of Renshaw, but failed to build big scores, out for 53 and 49 respectively.
Renshaw, who has been in and out of Australia’s side in a 14-Test career across seven years, grabbed his chance at No 3, cracking eight fours and a six.
All-rounder Cameron Green, who is also fighting to regain a Test spot, made 46 before being caught by wicketkeeper Sarfaraz Ahmed off Faheem Ashraf.
Skipper Nathan McSweeney departed for 40 while Beau Webster was not-out 21.