Cricket-turned-commentator Mitchell Johnson has denied doing an interview with an Indian English daily, whose website published an interaction on Sunday, where the former Australian fast bowler lavished praise on India pacer Jasprit Bumrah.
Johnson, who retired from all formats of the game earlier this year, has begun a broadcasting career as a commentator and an expert.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) too published the same interview on their official website and it was their tweet that caught Johnson's attention
Johnson first questioned ICC's tweet which read, "He hardly bowls a loose delivery, and any batsman will think twice before taking him on," alongside the link to the published article. However, he added that he did agree to the parts of the interview but does not recall sitting down with anyone for an interaction.
Where has this come from? I don’t recall this. Who wrote this? I do agree with parts of it but I never sat down with anyone from memory https://t.co/mlqSWdFuFS
— Mitchell Johnson (@MitchJohnson398) December 23, 2018
Then in another tweet, he rubbished the original interview that was published in Times Of India. Johnson said that he was not in Melbourne (from where the article was published) and never sat down for interaction with the journalist, who had filed the article. Some of the other websites too had carried the interview on their website attributing the quotes to the ICC.
Later the ICC took note of Johnson's comments and subsequently took the article off their website and even tweeted to Johnson offering assistance if the pacer sought a clarification.
Good evening Mitch. Given your Twitter comments, we are going to unpublish the article that features quotes that have been attributed to you. Please get in touch via DM if you'd like to issue a clarification https://t.co/FPF6hyjNFn
— ICC (@ICC) December 23, 2018
However, on Monday, the publication issued a clarification, standing by the reporter's interview, while calling Johnson's memory 'faint', in a statement. The Times of India admitted that Johnson's interview wasn't a typical sit-down interaction however it was conducted over several short sessions interspersed with Johnson's commentary stints. The national daily also pointed out to Johnson's tweet where the pace bowler agreed to the parts of the interview and supported their claim by posting a picture of the journalist along with Johnson.
Later on Monday, Johnson responded to the statement and a'selfie proof' presented by the publication, by listing out five points wherein the Aussie said he takes thousands of photos with fans deeming selfie as no proof. With photograph of the journalist present, Johnson said he remembered seeing the man around when he was talking to other journalists during the second Test.
— Mitchell Johnson (@MitchJohnson398) December 24, 2018
Replying to few others on Twitter, the 37-year-old reiterated that he was not in Melbourne and said that he did speak to many journalists but never agreed to go on record and raised an issue of privacy, if one of the journalists he was casually speaking to, reported a chat that he had had with others. A Twitter user accused Johnson of irritating the Indians with his discordant tweets and said that Johnson loathed Indian players to which the Aussie replied that got along fine with the Indian players and also reminded the user of the stick he received from a lot of Indians for a column he wrote regarding Virat Kohli's behaviour after the conclusion of the second Test at Perth.
I agree he’s got a bright future, I’ve always said that on Bumrah. I get on fine with the Indian players, I have talked them up plenty over the last 2 tests. I’m irritating Indians? I’m receiving plenty of abusive tweets over my column I did on Kohli. Show me my loathing tweets? — Mitchell Johnson (@MitchJohnson398) December 24, 2018
The publication response to Johnson's clarification is yet awaited.
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An official statement from the BCCI said Bumrah had asked "to be released from India’s squad ahead of the fourth Test owing to personal reasons.