World Cup hero Travis Head says Mitchell Johnson’s scathing column will only fire up David Warner as he prepares for his farewell Test series against Pakistan while rebuffing any talk he could be his opening replacement in the future.
The first Test in Perth begins on Thursday with players still dealing with the fallout of Johnson’s decision to rip into his former teammate in an explosive column that questioned Warner’s spot in the team and attacked him for his role in the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa in 2018.
Warner played a straight bat to questions last week, and his teammates are backing him to fire this week in what will be his final Test in Perth.
The 37-year-old hit 180 in his first Test in Perth 11 years ago, while he also smashed 253 against New Zealand in 2015 which was his highest score until he whacked an unbeaten triple-century against Pakistan four years later.
The fiery opener is set to let his bat do the talking as he’s done so often when he’s been in the spotlight.
“He’s been pretty calm, I think, which might be a good thing or a bad thing,” Head said on Monday.
“I think he’s revved up and I think a few people have said he doesn’t need much motivation so (those comments) added a little spice to it and revs him up.
“We’ve seen that over his whole career where he’s had moments whether he’s at the crossroads or people have had opinions or whatnot, but it doesn’t affect him too much.
“But I know deep down he keeps it in the back of his mind and it spurs him on.
“Hopefully that’s a good reason for lots of runs over the next few Test matches.”
Warner has indicated that he’ll retire from Test cricket after the third Test in Sydney, and amid speculation and theories over who should be his replacement, Head said he’d be stating in the middle order.
Warner has scored 8487 Test runs and needs another 157 to leapfrog Matt Hayden and Michael Clarke into fifth spot on the all-time Australian Test run-scoring list after Johnson questioned whether he deserved to be picked for this series having reached 50 just twice in his past 16 Test innings.
But veteran spinner and long-time teammate, Nathan Lyon, said it was the sort of scenario which could help Warner.
“Knowing David for the last 13 or 14 years, when he seems to be backed into the corner, that’s when he plays his best cricket,” off-spinner Nathan Lyon said.
“I’m backing David to come out and perform the way he has for Australia.
“I honestly don’t think that the Australian public probably realises the importance that David has played for the Australian cricket team over the last 13 years.
“I think I’ve played over 100 Tests with David, and to see what he’s been able to do has been pretty amazing so I’m looking forward to seeing him come out here.”
Originally published as David Warner backed by teammates to be fuelled by Mitchell Johnson criticism