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Though Warne and McGrath have rolled back the years with some traditionally ridiculous pre-Ashes banter, the build up to the 2009 Ashes has been uncomfortably genial. But that hasn’t stopped Mitchell Johnson’s mum from wading in, slamming – for want of a more appropriate, non basketball-sounding phrase - both Cricket Australia and Johnson’s lady, karate kid herself and belle of the ball, Jessica Bratich.
All is not well chez Johnson. "I get a text on Mother's Day and a text on my birthday," she sobbed to Australia’s Herald Sun. "The last time I actually spoke to him was when the beach cricket was here (and) Dennis Lillee told him he had to ring his mother, so Mitchell rang me that day. It has been like this since Jess came on the scene.”
Poor Cricket Australia have been hit a double blow by two forthright ladies – Bratich last week, and now Johnson’s mum, Ms Harber.
"For the wives and the children I think it is great that they support them and send the over there, but who are these girlfriends? They are just girlfriends,” Ms Harber said, in a string of quotations that sounds more like a script for Neighbours. "Mitch met Jess and since then she has flown off to South Africa, to England and the Bahamas. She gets all these trips, she gets flown there, accommodation, food and all of that."
Johnson is aware of his mother’s comments but has refused to reply. Wise man indeed.