Defiant David Warner laughs off Mitchell Johnson’s criticism of his retirement plan

David Warner has opened up on Mitchell Johnson’s criticism of his retirement plans, saying his former teammate is entitled to his opinions, however scathing.

The 37-year-old opening batter’s refusal to add fuel to the fire comes as Australian captain Pat Cummins says the Test team would be “fiercely protective” of the 109-Test veteran in the face of external attacks.

Warner is hoping to call time on an illustrious Test career after Australia faces Pakistan on his home deck at the SCG in the third and final match of the series that begins in Perth on Thursday.

But in a newspaper column at the weekend, 72-Test former firebrand Johnson questioned whether Warner had been in strong enough form to set his own retirement date and opened up old wounds by referencing his role in the “Sandpapergate” ball-tampering saga.

The retired quick, currently a radio commentator for Triple M, has been roundly condemned for the extent of his critique, which included suggesting that “Bunnings would sell out of sandpaper” in the lead-up to the mooted retirement Test.

But Warner himself laughed the comments off as he addressed them for the first time.

“It wouldn’t be a summer without a headline, would it?” he said at the launch of Fox Cricket’s summer coverage on Friday. “It is what it is. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinions. Moving forward, we’re looking forward to a nice Test over in the west.”

Since the summer of 2020/21, Warner has managed only one Test century from 25 matches – a memorable 200 against South Africa in his 100th Test at the MCG in late 2022. He averaged just 22.8 last season with 365 runs from nine Tests and a highest score of 66.

Australian selectors have stuck by Warner amid the lean stretch but are in the midst of determining his replacement beyond Sydney, with frontrunners Cameron Bancroft and Marcus Harris duelling in the Prime Minister’s XI game currently being played at Manuka Oval in Canberra

The playing group has been just as supportive in recent days.

“I think we protect each other a lot,” Cummins said. “We’ve been through a lot over the years, our boys. Someone like Davey or Steve (Smith), I’ve played with them for a dozen years now so we’re fiercely protective of each other. Sometimes you’ve got to remind yourself of the amount of positive support that is out there.”

Warner, focused on ending his career on a high, said he learned long ago to knuckle down in the face of criticism like Johnson’s.

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“My parents ingrained that into me,” he said. “They taught me every day to fight and work hard. When you go onto the world stage and you don’t realise what comes with that, it’s a lot of media, a lot of criticism but a lot of positives.

“I think what’s more important is what you see here today – people coming out to support cricket.”

Cummins is hopeful Australia can move past the saga ahead of their first home match since a successful winter that yielded wins in the ODI World Cup and World Test Championship finals as well as a drawn Ashes series in England.

The Perth Test is also set to mark Nathan Lyon’s return from the calf injury he suffered early in the Ashes.

“We’ve had arguably our most successful year ever. We’re going into a really exciting summer,” Cummins said. “There’s so many positive things around Australian cricket I think we should be talking about and we’re focusing on that (Johnson’s column).”


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