Aussie cricket chiefs admit: We should have sacked Paine three years ago!
By Richard Gibson
TIM PAINE should have been sacked as Test captain three years ago, Australian cricket chiefs were forced to admit yesterday. Paine, who turns 37 on the opening day of the Ashes next month, quit on Friday following revelations that he’d sent indecorous text messages to a female colleague at his state team, Tasmania, in 2017. The ‘sexting’ episode was investigated the following year. ‘While I cannot speak about the decision-making in 2018, what I can say, is that faced with the same circumstances and all the relevant information about this matter, Cricket Australia would not make the same decisions today,’ Richard Freudenstein, chair of Cricket Australia, said. ‘I acknowledge the decision clearly sent the wrong message to the sport, the community, and to Tim that this kind of behaviour is acceptable and without serious consequences. The role of the Australia cricket captain must be held to the highest standards.’ Freudenstein revealed he was made aware of the Paine case when he joined the board two years ago while chief executive Nick Hockley said although conscious of its existence, he only gained a deeper understanding of it once it became clear the story would go public. Embarrassingly for CA, Paine was forced into a tearful resignation speech just 48 hours after being confirmed as figurehead of Australia’s 15-man Ashes squad. In a twist to the story, Cricket Tasmania said the woman in question only lodged her complaint in mid-2018 when she was charged with theft. Paine — viewed as a safe pair of hands in the wake of Australia’s sandpaper scandal — had been appointed as successor to Steve Smith just weeks earlier. Tasmania’s investigation concluded Paine’s interaction with the woman was ‘consensual, private, occurred on the one occasion only... and was not repeated.’ Smith is now a candidate for the armband again, although the smart money — after the sleazy expose of family man Paine and the stigma that sticks to Smith for his previous tenure — is for Australia to turn to the PC option. Pat Cummins currently holds the vice-captaincy and would be the first fast bowler to lead Australia in Test cricket since Ray Lindwall in 1956. After the battering they’ve taken for the decision not to disclose the investigation into Paine, CA will not want to get this call wrong. Paine remains in the squad but struggles to justify his place without the leadership position.