Mitchell Johnson has questioned why former Australia team-mate David Warner is getting a “hero’s send-off” and has been able to “nominate his own retirement date”.
Warner, 37, has been named in Australia’s squad for the first Test against Pakistan on December 14, which will be shown live on TNT Sports.
“As we prepare for David Warner’s farewell series, can somebody please tell me why?” wrote former Australia fast bowler Johnson in the West Australian.
“Why a struggling Test opener gets to nominate his own retirement date. And why a player at the centre of one of the biggest scandals in Australian cricket history warrants a hero’s send-off?
“Warner certainly isn’t Australia’s Test captain and never deserved to be for that matter. In fact, he ends his career under a lifetime leadership ban.
“Yes, he has a decent overall record and some say he 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 tail-ender 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 swan song, 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?
“It’s been five years and 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.”
Johnson and Warner were Australia team-mates from 2009 to 2015.
Warner’s fellow opener Usman Khawaja defended him from the criticism and said he has “paid his dues”.
“Davey Warner and Steve Smith are heroes in my mind,” Khawaja said.
“They missed a year of cricket through dark times in Australian cricket but they have paid their dues.
“No one is perfect. Mitchell Johnson isn’t perfect. I am not perfect. Steve Smith is not perfect. David Warner isn’t perfect.
“What they have done for the game and to grow the game far outweighs anything else they have done.
“So for [Johnson] to imply that Dave Warner or anyone else involved in [the] Sandpaper [incident] is not a hero, I strongly disagree with because I believe they have paid their dues.”
Australia play Pakistan in three Tests starting on December 14, December 26, and January 3.
Stream the West Indies v England tour live on TNT Sports and discovery+