Hung out to dry: Paine says CA abandoned him during sex text saga

Former Test captain Tim Paine has said he was abandoned and “hung out to dry” by Cricket Australia when explicit text messages that ultimately cost him the top job were on the verge of becoming public.

Oct 25, 2022, updated Oct 25, 2022
Former Australian cricket captain Tim Paine (AAP image).

Former Australian cricket captain Tim Paine (AAP image).

In his autobiography, The Price Paid, Paine also detailed how he “fell apart” following the scandal, lost weight and turned to gruelling runs as a form of self-punishment.

The 37-year-old stood down as captain in November last year and took time away from the game after a 2017 text message exchange with Cricket Tasmania colleague Renee Ferguson was aired.

Paine describes a phone conversation with Cricket Australia (CA) chief executive Nick Hockley and an unnamed public relations consultant on the eve of the story being published.

He said it became obvious that CA was no longer going to back him as captain.

“I felt they were driven by the need to protect their image … they were hanging me out to dry,” Paine wrote.

Paine drafted a resignation letter the next morning and later fronted the media at a snap press conference in Hobart.

“I was prepared to cop the flak for what I did, but in my mind Cricket Australia had abandoned me and made it look like they thought I’d sexually harassed someone,” he wrote in the book.

Paine was cleared of wrongdoing in relation to the text messages by a CA investigation in 2018 and maintains the exchange was consensual.

He became Test captain the same year after Steve Smith was stripped of the role over ball-tampering.

The day after Paine announced his resignation, CA chair Richard Freudenstein told media the current board would not have endorsed him as captain following the investigation.

“The one thing that got me later was when Cricket Australia said that they would have handled it differently to the way it was done in 2017,” Paine wrote.

“The reality was they were happy to defend me and accept I hadn’t breached their code of conduct as long as it was kept private.

“If the story hadn’t run, I would still be captain and if Cricket Australia had handled it like they said they would I would still be playing for Australia.

“For seven days they tried to quash the story and the only time it became different was when it was going to become public.”

Paine said he asked for a copy of the investigation integrity report but has never received one, and also asked for copies to be given to media.

Paine took a break from the sport about a week after resigning as Test captain but has since returned to play Sheffield Shield cricket for Tasmania this season.

He revealed he sought professional help for his mental health and felt so ashamed about what he had inflicted on wife Bonnie, his two children and family.

“I couldn’t control my thoughts, it was shocking. No matter how many times I tried to pull myself together, my mind just fell apart,” Paine wrote.

“I had some horrendous thoughts in that period. Like maybe it would be easier for people if I wasn’t here.”

Ferguson has taken legal action against Cricket Tasmania, alleging she was sexually harassed by several former colleagues.

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