Mitchell Johnson has written about his long-term friendship with allrounder Shane Watson in his autobiography Resilient © AFP
Mitchell Johnson has revealed how his long-standing friendship with Shane Watson made a rocky start when the allrounder stuck the future Australia fast man’s head in the toilet during a wrestle at the Cricket Academy in Adelaide.
Back in 2000, the Academy was very much an alpha-male environment helmed by Rod Marsh and featuring tutorials from the likes of Ian Chappell, John Inverarity and Dennis Lillee. Johnson told the story of how that year’s intake had a habit of watching the Australia soap Neighbours together, although this seems mainly a pretence for the bouts of wrestling that took place in commercial breaks.
“Every night we’d pile into the common room and watch Neighbours before dinner,” Johnson wrote in his autobiography Resilient, which released on Monday. “I was always a bit willing as every time there was an ad break there would be an all-in wrestle on the floor until the show started again.
“In one wrestle I was dragged through the door and into the bathroom by a heap of guys and somebody pushed my head into the toilet. I wasn’t impressed and the red mist descended. Somehow I managed to break free and I grabbed whoever it was by the front of the shirt as I got up and someone grabbed mine.
“I raised my right fist and he did the same. Then we looked at each other. It was Watto. I think we both looked at each other and thought: nah, I’m not going to hit him, he’s my mate, and put our fists down at the same time. I can’t say I wasn’t angry. It took me a few days to get over it.”
Johnson and Watson were suspended for “spending too much time together” on a 2013 Indian tour © AFP
Johnson tells the story by way of “full disclosure” after discussing the confrontation between Michael Clarke and Simon Katich in the SCG dressing room in 2009. Ricky Ponting told a similar tale of going toe-to-toe with Paul Reiffel on a flight early in his Australia career.
The irony of all this of course is that Watson and Johnson went on to become close friends within the highly competitive and, at times, isolated world of international cricket. So much so that when Johnson sought further explanation for why both had been suspended in India in 2013, he was told by then coach Mickey Arthur the following:
“Mickey told me I spent too much time with Watto and that was the real issue here. I was told we were too close, like we were a faction or something. I am sorry but you can’t help but be close to a bloke you have been playing cricket with since you were 19.”
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.