In a surprising turn of events, former Australian cricketer Mitchell Johnson has criticized his ex-teammate David Warner, raising questions about whether the embattled opener deserves a farewell after the infamous ball-tampering scandal.

The ball-tampering drama

The controversy surrounding Warner, along with Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft, rocked the cricketing world in 2018 during the third Test against South Africa in Cape Town. The trio faced severe consequences for their involvement in the plot to tamper with the ball, resulting in bans from international and domestic cricket.

Mitchell Johnson criticizes David Warner

Johnson, known for his express pace and aggressive style during his international career, didn’t mince his words in a scathing attack on Warner over the latter’s farewell Test series versus Pakistan. Warner, in June this year, had announced that he’d like to retire from Test cricket after the match against Pakistan at his home ground (SCG) in January 2024.

In his column for The West Australian, Johnson mentioned that Warner do not deserve a hero’s send-off.

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“It’s been five years and David Warner has still never really owned the ball-tampering scandal. Now the way he is going out is underpinned by more of the same arrogance and disrespect to our country. As we prepare for David Warner’s farewell series, can somebody please tell me why?

“Why a struggling Test opener get to nominate his retirement date. And why a player at the center of one of the biggest scandals in Australian cricket history warrants a hero’s send-off? What will fans bring for Warner? Bunnings would sell out of sandpaper,” wrote Johnson.

“Warner certainly isn’t Australia’s Test captain and never deserved to be for that matter. He ends his career under a lifetime leadership ban. Yes, he has a decent overall record and some say is one of our greatest opening bats. But his past three years in Test cricket have been ordinary, with a batting average closer to what a tailender would be happy with.

“It’s the ball-tampering disgrace in South Africa that many will never forget. Although Warner wasn’t alone in Sandpapergate, he was at the time a senior member of the team and someone who liked to use his perceived power as a ‘leader’. Does this really warrant a swansong, a last hurrah against Pakistan that was forecast a year in advance as if he was bigger than the game and the Australian cricket team?” added Johnson.

While some cricket enthusiasts may argue that Warner has served his punishment and deserves a chance for a dignified farewell, Johnson’s comments reflect a different perspective, emphasizing the need for accountability and the integrity of the game.

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Warner, who has been a prolific run-scorer for Australia over the years, has been on a mission to rebuild his image since the ball-tampering incident. However, Johnson’s remarks underscore the enduring impact of the scandal on the cricketing world.

Cricket Australia has not officially commented on Johnson’s statements, and it remains to be seen how the cricketing community and the governing body will respond to this latest development. The controversy has reignited discussions about the delicate balance between forgiveness and accountability in the world of professional sports.

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