The Times of India on Monday issued a statement saying it is standing by its journalist’s interview of former cricketer Mitchell Johnson after the Australian claimed it never took place.
The English daily on Sunday published an interview of Johnson, conducted by journalist Sumit Mukherjee, with “Melbourne” in the dateline. Mukherjee is covering India’s tour of Australia for the daily.
The interview, published in a question-and-answer format, has quotes attributed to Johnson on a number of topics, including his opinion on the pace attacks of both Australia and India.
Johnson is quoted as saying that Jasprit Bumrah is “hard to score off and any batsman will think twice before taking him on”.
However, Johnson took to Twitter late on Sunday saying that he was not in Melbourne and also did not recall giving an interview to Mukherjee.
In another tweet, where Johnson quoted the International Cricket Council’s curation of the same interview, the Australian said he does “agree with parts of it but I never sat down with anyone from memory”.
In response to a Twitter user who asked whether the TOI journalist reported a conversation that took place between Johnson and another journalist, Johnson said, “I never had a Q&A with an Indian journalist & I’m not in Melbourne. I did talk to many journalists casually through the first 2 test matches but I never agreed to an interview or on the record chats. If the journalist reported a chat I had with others, that’s a privacy issue?”
Minutes after Johnson’s tweets started kicking up a storm on social media, the ICC took down its curation of the interview and asked Johnson on Twitter whether he would like to issue a clarification.
On Monday, the Times of India then issued a statement on Twitter saying it stood by Mukherjee. Along with the statement, the daily also posted a photo of Mukherjee and Johnson together, claiming it to be proof that the interview took place.
“TOI correspondent Sumit Mukherjee spoke with Mitchell Johnson in the Optus Stadium media centre during the Perth test,” the statement said. “The interview TOI carried was based on parts of that conversation.
“The interview (not a formal sit-down one) was conducted over several short sessions interspersed with Johnson’s commentary stints. TOI stands by the interview and regrets Johnson’s faint memory...Here is a picture of Sumit and Johnson together at one of their small conversation sessions to refresh it.”
UPDATE: Mitchell Johnson issued a detailed response to TOI’s clarification, insisting there was never a formal interview.