Cricket Tasmania has accused Cricket Australia of treating Tim Paine “appallingly” over the texting scandal that led to the Test captain’s resignation last week.
Paine stepped down from his role less than two weeks before the start of the Ashes series after it became clear to him that details of the incident involving a colleague in 2017 were about to be made public.
In a scathing statement on Tuesday, Cricket Tasmania chair Andrew Gaggin condemned the national governing body’s handling of the fallout from Friday’s shock announcement and indicated it had not gone down well in Paine’s home state.
“In conversations I have had in recent days it is clear that the anger amongst the Tasmanian cricket community and general public is palpable,” Gaggin said. “Tim Paine has been a beacon for Australian cricket over the past four years and instrumental in salvaging the reputation of the national team after the calamity of Cape Town.
“Yet, at a time when [Cricket Australia] should have supported Tim, he was evidently regarded as dispensable. The treatment afforded to the Australian Test captain by Cricket Australia has been appalling, and the worst since Bill Lawry over 50 years ago.”
Cricket Tasmania became aware of the text messages in 2018 – some months after Paine had been made Test captain in the wake of the ball-tampering scandal – and a subsequent investigation cleared the wicketkeeper of any breach of Cricket Australia’s code of conduct.
Cricket Australia accepted Paine’s resignation last week and, after being criticised over its initial handling of the affair, Cricket Australia chair Richard Freudenstein said the current board would have stripped him of the captaincy at the time of the investigation.
But following a meeting on Monday, Gaggin on Tuesday reiterated the Cricket Tasmania board’s view that Paine “should not have been put in a position where he felt the need to resign over an incident that was determined by an independent inquiry at the time to not be a breach of the code of conduct and was a consensual and private exchange that occurred between two mature adults and was not repeated”.
With his automatic selection as captain no longer guaranteed, Paine faces a battle to retain his place in the Australian Test squad for the start of the Ashes series on 8 December in Brisbane, as he works his way back to fitness.
He has yet to score a century in 57 Test innings and neither his glovework, nor his career average of 32.63, make him a shoo-in for selection, with Alex Carey and Josh Inglis also vying for his spot.
Paine underwent neck surgery in September and only returned to the field for the first time since April in a lower-grade game on Monday. The 36-year-old, who has indicated he wants to play on for the Test side, took six catches for Tasmania’s second XI against South Australia before getting out lbw on his second ball for one run.
Chairman of selectors George Bailey, a close friend and business partner of Paine, said he would not cast the deciding vote if the other members of the panel were split on his selection for the Gabba Test. Instead, he would step aside and leave it to Tony Dodemaide and head coach Justin Langer to work it out.