SYDNEY: Cricket Australia has conceded Tim Paine should have been stood down as Australia’s Test captain when he was first investigated over a text message scandal three years ago that “sent the wrong message that this kind of behaviour is acceptable”.
Paine stood down from the Test captaincy in tears on Friday afternoon – less than three weeks out from the opening Ashes clash against England – after admitting to sending inappropriate texts to a female Cricket Tasmania colleague in 2017.
The incident was investigated in 2018 but Paine was cleared by Cricket Tasmania and Cricket Australia’s integrity unit of breaching their code of conduct and was able to stay on.
However, speaking on Saturday, the current CA chairman, Richard Freudenstein, said allowing Paine to remain as skipper was a mistake by previous administrators in light of the initial integrity investigation.
“While I cannot speak about the original decision-making in 2018 with the benefit of all relevant information about this matter, Cricket Australia would not make the same decision today,” he said at a press conference.
He continued, “I acknowledge that the decision clearly sent the wrong message to the sport, to the community and to Tim — that this kind of behaviour is acceptable and without serious consequences,” adding, “The role of Australia captain must be held to the highest standards.”
Freudenstein said that since 2018 CA had put in place better education for players over acceptable behaviour and social media use, including the exchange of sexually explicit material. “But what is clear is that there are lessons to be learnt and we, as an organisation, have more to do,” he added.
He also confirmed the 36-year-old wicketkeeper, who is on the comeback from neck surgery, was available for Ashes selection as a player in the opening Test at Brisbane on December 8.
“The board of Australian cricket is comfortable with his availability as a player,” he added. Pat Cummins and Smith are seen as the frontrunners to take over as skipper.
Paine took over the Test captaincy in March 2018 in the wake of the “Sandpaper-gate” scandal that rocked Australian cricket. Then-captain Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner were forced to step down for their roles in trying to alter the ball with sandpaper during a Cape Town Test.