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Khawaja defends 'hero' Warner after Johnson's scathing attack
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Danny Ryan
David Warner and Usman Khawaja helped Australia win the World Test Championship this year
David Warner and Usman Khawaja helped Australia win the World Test Championship this year

Usman Khawaja has leapt to the defence of Australia team-mate David Warner after he was the subject of scathing criticism from Mitchell Johnson.

Former Aussie fast bowler Johnson claimed Warner is not deserving of a "hero's send-off" in the upcoming three-match Test series against Pakistan, with the final game in Sydney starting on January 2 earmarked as the batter's red-ball farewell.

Johnson wrote in a column for The West Australian: "As we prepare for David Warner's farewell series, can somebody please tell me why?

"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?"

Khawaja strongly disagrees with Johnson's criticism, instead opting to label his opening partner Warner and Steve Smith as "heroes" of Australian cricket.

He said: "Davey Warner and Steve Smith are heroes in my mind.

"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 isn't 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."

Warner, who has scored 8,487 runs in 109 Tests at an average of 44.43, was banned from cricket for a year due to his role in the 2018 ball-tampering scandal.

He returned for the 2019 World Cup, helping Australia reach the semi-finals before they were eliminated by eventual champions England.

Warner's form in Tests since his comeback has been patchy at best, with just one century to his name since 2021 and an average of less than 30 over the past two years.

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