I was at a sports lunch when news of Tim Paine’s firing trickled through.
The MC settled the room with a booming, ‘Breaking news, ladies and gentlemen, breaking news…’
When he announced that ‘Australian cricket captain Tim Paine has just resigned over a sex scandal’, the response was one of disbelief.
A common, ‘Whaaaaaa…?’ bounced off the walls.
“Is this a joke?” someone shouted.
Well yes and no.
Paine (pictured with wife Bonnie) said his decision to step down as skipper was ‘incredibly difficult’ but ‘the right choice was for me, my family and cricket’
Tim Paine resigned as Australian Test cricket captain amid shocking sexting scandal in which he sent a lewd photo and explicit messages to a female staff
The news flash was no laughing matter, but the fact that Cricket Australia have just lost its second consecutive national team captain to misbehavior by the knucklehead could very well be placed in the sick jokes category.
Almost exactly two years ago I wrote a newspaper column full of praise for the Australian Test Captain.
A captain who had taken the reins of the preeminent job in Australian sport at a time of unprecedented crisis.
With previous skipper Steve Smith and his vice-captain David Warner sacked over the infamous ‘Sandpapergate’ debacle, and the country’s once proud Test side an object of shame and ridicule, Australia needed someone special to to lead us out of the darkness.
Someone with an impeccable track record on and off the pitch; a man of rare quality and character whose reputation was impeccable.
Tim Paine, I wrote in my column, was that man. Captain Cleanskin.
Boy, have I ever been fooled.
Standing by her husband: The loyal wife of Australian Test cricket captain Tim Paine (pictured with wife Bonnie) has stood by him for the past three years, despite knowing he was sending lewd text messages to a female staffer
Forgiven and Forgotten: Bonnie Paine was aware of her husband’s indiscretion in 2018 when he was investigated by Cricket Australia and eventually cleared of wrongdoing
Still, I can at least take comfort in the fact that I wasn’t the only one. The stunned reaction following the MC’s announcement to the function I attended Friday was no doubt mirrored in other rooms across the country, and indeed the world.
And why not?
Tim Paine, apparently happily married father of two, sexting with a Cricket Tasmania employee and sending her explicit photos and messages hours before taking to the field for an Ashes Test in 2017?
It seemed almost too bizarre to be true, but it was true – and not only that, Cricket Australia knew it was true shortly after he gave Paine the captaincy, and yet they still considered him the best man for the job .
As he said in his resignation statement: ‘Almost four years ago I was involved in a text exchange with a colleague at the time. The exchange was the subject of a thorough CA Integrity Unit investigation at the time… That investigation, along with a Cricket Tasmania HR investigation, found that there had been no violation of the CA Code of Conduct.”
Batsman Travis Head (pictured left) was taken aback when he was told by reporters that Tim Paine was stepping aside as test skipper during his own press conference in Adelaide on Friday
Cricket Australia chairman Richard Freudenstein said that ‘although the board recognizes that an investigation acquitted Tim several years ago of any breach of the code of conduct in relation to this matter, we respect his decision’ to resign the captaincy.
But Cricket Australia has since refuted the timeline deduced from Paine’s statement, saying they only learned about the sexting after he was named captain – although Paine certainly was when he accepted the job.
In my view, this raises two pertinent questions. One: what does the collective labor agreement code of conduct find inappropriate? And two, how stupid are the people running the game in this country?
If they’ve been around long enough to make it to the top of a major sports organization, they should be aware that keeping a scandal like this away from the media was about as likely as Cameron Bancroft getting away with covering up. that piece of sandpaper his pants.
Australian Pat Cummins (pictured) is tipped as best next test captain
Steve Smith wept as the ballsy ‘Sandpapergate’ scandal forced him to resign as Test captain in 2018 – paving the way for Paine to take the top job
Wouldn’t you think that when CA’s underinvested board of directors was debating whether to make Paine’s indiscretion public or try to hide it, someone would have put down his glass of whiskey, wiped his mustache, and offered a few words of reason? ?
“Sorry guys, but as much as I like Paney, great dude and all, we really should leave the second highest job in the country to the prime minister to someone who sends happy pictures of his old dude to one of the office girls right before he must fill up to face the old enemy?’
Obviously not – and now they have to bear the consequences. Like us.
In just a few weeks, Australia, still on a climax after an unlikely win in the T-20 World Cup, will face England in a home game in Ashes, the biggest game in the game.
And they’ll have to make do with a new captain and, you might think, a new wicketkeeper, because while Paine has said he’s still available for the upcoming series, even CA wouldn’t be crazy enough to pick him.
Paine was brought in as the white knight of Australian cricket after captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner were suspended along with opener Cameron Bancroft in 2018 following South Africa’s ball-mess scandal
Tim Paine has publicly and emotionally apologized to his wife for the “hurt and hurt” he caused her when he sent lewd messages to a female colleague for five years
In addition, Paine should perhaps worry less about playing cricket and more about fixing some fences on the home front in the coming months.
Which, given his heroism with the bat in the World Cup, will likely see Matthew Wade called into the Test side.
As for who will lead the team, over the lunch I attended, the big question was whether the now-disgraced Paine would be replaced as captain by the now-disgraced Steve Smith.
Personally, if I were a gambler, I’d have my money on Pat Cummins. He may be a bowler, but he’s talented, articulate and, as far as we know, hasn’t erased his notebook.
Anyway, let’s hope they get it right this time. The last two Australian cricket captains have quit the job while blubbering in a sea of TV cameras.
I’d hate to see the next one end in tears.
Tim Paine’s Rise and Dramatic Fall in Sexting Scandal
Australian captain Tim Paine walks to change ends during a cricket test against India at the Sydney Cricket Ground, in Sydney, Australia on January 9, 2021
2010: Tim Paine makes his test debut against Pakistan, replacing the injured Brad Haddin, but is dumped upon the return of the incumbent
April 2016: Paine marries Bonnie Maggs
November 17, 2017: Admitted Shock Reminder for Ashes Series
November 22-23, 2017: Paine sends obscene messages to a female colleague on the eve and morning of the first Ashes Test in Brisbane. The couple had exchanged texts throughout the year
January 2018: Selected for squadron to tour South Africa
March 25, 2018: Appointed interim captain after Steve Smith and David Warner resigned over ‘sandpapergate’ scandal involving balls
March 28, 2018: Paine is named captain for the 4th Test of the series, becoming the Australian side’s 46th captain
April 2018: Awarded a national contract by Cricket Australia
June 2018: Cricket Australia and Cricket Tasmania become aware of the reports and launch an investigation into a complaint from the woman. Paine claims he was acquitted during the investigation. His wife Bonnie was aware of the messages but chose to stay with him
2018 – 2021: Paine continues as test captain and retains the Ashes in England in 2019
November 19, 2021: Paine resigns as full details of the explicit posts surface