Cricket Australia have admitted that Tim Paine should have been rejected as Australia’s Test captain when he was first investigated in connection with an SMS scandal three years ago, with background checks now to be carried out by potential captain successors.
Paine stepped down from the Test leadership in tears on Friday afternoon – less than three weeks after the initial Ashes showdown against England – after admitting to sending inappropriate texts to a female Cricket Tasmania colleague in 2017.
Paine was investigated by both state and national sports bodies in 2018 and acquitted of violating Cricket Australia’s code of conduct at the time. After being restored to the test side in late 2017, Paine was then made test captain in the outcome of the Australian cricket sandpaper scandal during the fateful 2018 South African tour.
But in a speech Saturday, current CA chairman Richard Freudenstein said allowing Paine to remain as skipper was a mistake by previous administrators in light of the initial integrity inquiry.
“I can not talk about the 2018 decision, I was not there,” Freudenstein told reporters. “But I say, based on the facts as they are, today the board of directors of Cricket Australia would not have made that decision. I acknowledge that the decision clearly sent the wrong message that this behavior is acceptable and without serious consequences. The role of Australian cricket captain must be kept to the highest standards. “
Freudenstein said he considered the case closed when he joined CA’s board in 2019 in his explanation of why no action was taken on Paine’s behavior earlier.
Paine’s resignation from the captaincy has a speed-bowling spearhead and vice-captain Pat Cummins favored taking the Australian cricket’s highest cape. One concern associated with plumping for Cummins is the workload that would cause him to juggle skipper duties and the hardships of his high-octane bowling, both of which would be magnified by the five Ashes Tests scheduled to take place in just over six weeks from kl. December 8 series opening in Brisbane.
Former captain Steve Smith appears as either an alternative option or deputy after serving a leadership ban for his role in the 2018 episode of ball manipulation that led to Paine’s rise. The 36-year-old wicketkeeper had been tipped wide for retirement after Ashes. With that in mind, Freudenstein said the process of finding Australia’s next captain was already underway and would now be accelerated.
He declined to speculate on potential candidates other than to confirm that Smith, 32, remained among them, and confirmed candidates would be investigated to avoid a repeat of the saga surrounding Paine’s resignation.
“You can be sure of that [as] part of that process, we will try to ensure that these problems do not exist, ”Freudenstein replied when asked about the possibility of background checks.
“We have launched a process to find the next Australian captain, which should take place over the summer in the expectation that Tim would one day retire. We are of course speeding up that process. It will be a very thorough but short process, who will look at all the relevant criteria for a captain of the Australian cricket team.We come to a conclusion [on] it with good time before the ashes.
“There are a number of candidates available for that role. Steve Smith is one of the candidates available for the role.”
Paine, meanwhile, has insisted he remains available for selection as a player, although concerns about his fitness and value without the captaincy have raised suggestions that Australian A-keeper Alex Carey is in line to replace the Tasmanian veteran.
Paine’s attempt to return from a neck operation via club cricket with University on Saturday – what would have been his first competitive punch in eight months – was thwarted by rain without a ball being thrown. Australian selector George Bailey met with Paine at Hobart’s Queenborough Oval before the game was canceled as both he and the ousted Australian captain declined inquiries for media comments.
Freudenstein said CA was “comfortable” with Paine continuing as a player, pending his form and fitness, but insisted that leadership positions be held to greater account.
“The captain of the Australian cricket team must be kept to a very high standard,” Freudenstein said. “Therefore, I think it is entirely appropriate that Tim has resigned the captaincy, which is in the best interests of Australian cricket. The Board of Australian Cricket is familiar with his availability as a player.”