Former captain Tim Paine savages Cricket Australia over sexting scandal sacking

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Disgraced former Aussie captain Tim Paine has launched an extraordinary broadside at Cricket Australia boss Nick Hockley for using a PR firm to effectively sack him as skipper.

In his newly released autobiography ‘The Price Paid’, the 37-year-old breaks his silence on the sexting scandal that led to his demise as Australia’s Test captain.

The married father-of-two sent a series of sexually-suggestive messages, including a picture of his genitals, to a co-worker at Cricket Tasmania, Renee Ferguson, in 2017, but the ‘sexts’ resurfaced in November 2021, forcing Paine into a tearful resignation conference that month.

He said he felt ‘hung out to dry’ by Hockley and Cricket Australia in the wake of the messages emerging publicly, and revealed the effective decision to sack him came from a PR firm. 

Tim Paine with wife Bonnie and their two children Milla and Charlie. Paine has released a new book that addresses his infamous sexting scandal from 2017

Paine slammed the treatment he faced from Cricket Australia and CEO Nick Hockley (pictured) when details of sexually-suggestive texts between he and a co-worker became public in November, 2021

Paine slammed the treatment he faced from Cricket Australia and CEO Nick Hockley (pictured) when details of sexually-suggestive texts between he and a co-worker became public in November, 2021

During a phone link with the CEO, Paine wrote that an unnamed public relations executive took the lead, and insisted the best way forward was for the wicketkeeper to stand down as captain. 

‘We did a phone link which included this person they’d hired from a public relations firm who’d apparently given advice to the board in the past,’ he wrote, referring to the conference that occurred one day before the sexting scandal became public.

‘He said that he’d been in the newspaper game for many years and this was going to be huge and would not go away. 

‘I found it very strange that this person, someone I’d never met and someone who did not work at Cricket Australia, took the lead in the call while Nick, the chief executive, took a back seat.  

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‘The consultant then said that the best way to get ahead of the story was if I stood down as captain. I was stunned by that,’ wrote Paine.

Then-Australian captain Tim Paine with the Ashes trophy after beating England in 2019

Then-Australian captain Tim Paine with the Ashes trophy after beating England in 2019

Cricket Australia found out about the sexually-suggestive texts, which went back and forth for about a year, seven months in 2018 after Ferguson sent a letter to the organisation along with Cricket Tasmania and the Australian Human Rights Commission. 

Paine, who maintains the messages were consensual, was cleared of wrongdoing by both cricket associations in subsequent inquiries – and continues to demand the findings are made public.

The skipper told Hockley that he had been cleared, and the indiscretions were a personal matter – but they clearly had no choice but to make a stand, something which Paine wrote made him the proverbial sacrificial lamb. 

Tim and Bonnie Paine have remained strong despite the sexting scandal that threatened to ruin their relationship

Tim and Bonnie Paine have remained strong despite the sexting scandal that threatened to ruin their relationship

‘It was becoming obvious what Cricket Australia wanted me to do but they didn’t have the courage to say it themselves, they were letting their hired consultant run the show,’ Paine wrote. 

‘I felt they were driven by the need to protect their image … they were hanging me out to dry.

‘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,’ Paine wrote in the book. 

Paine drafted a resignation letter the next morning, something he claims he wrote only because he felt he ‘had a gun to his head’, and later fronted the media at a tearful press conference in his hometown, Hobart.

Tim Paine announced his resignation as Australian captain during a teary press conference on November 19, 2021, in which he apologised for the pain he had caused

Tim Paine announced his resignation as Australian captain during a teary press conference on November 19, 2021, in which he apologised for the pain he had caused

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At the time, the married man said he was ‘deeply sorry for the hurt and pain’ he caused his wife (Bonnie), family and the ‘other party’ (Ferguson), and said he and his wife remained together and had since moved past the ‘sexting’ controversy.

Paine has been married to wife Bonnie since 2016, and the pair have two children together: Milla and Charlie. 

The day after the resignation announcement, Cricket Australia chair Richard Freudenstein told media the current board would not have endorsed him as captain following the investigation.

It is something that clearly irks Paine.  

Tim Paine, pictured holding son Charlie with wife Bonnie at his side, is not impressed by the way he was treated by Cricket Australia

Tim Paine, pictured holding son Charlie with wife Bonnie at his side, is not impressed by the way he was treated by Cricket Australia

‘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,’ he 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,’ wrote Paine.

It was an explosive few years for men’s cricket in Australia.

The previously-thought cleanskin Paine was thrust into the captaincy after Steve Smith was stripped of the roll following the infamous ball-tampering scandal in March, 2018.

Paine, pictured captaining Australia against India in January 2021, resigned 10 months later - and then had an extended break from cricket

Paine, pictured captaining Australia against India in January 2021, resigned 10 months later – and then had an extended break from cricket

The side had been under-fire for their arrogant and, at times, unsportsmanlike play, and Paine was seen as the angelic face who could turn around the worsening perception of the team. 

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Instead, the sport got plunged into further controversy, something that is only just now turning around with tearaway quick Pat Cummins at the helm. 

Despite the explosive allegations and complaints about Cricket Australia, Paine insists he does not want anyone’s sympathy, and wrote he ‘fell apart’ after the scandal. 

Tim and Bonnie Paine, pictured enjoying Wineglass Bay in their native Tasmania, remain together to this day

Tim and Bonnie Paine, pictured enjoying Wineglass Bay in their native Tasmania, remain together to this day

He revealed he sought professional help for his mental health and felt so ashamed about what he had inflicted on his glamorous 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.’

Paine, a multi-talented athlete who was on-track to play AFL footy as a youngster, has been known throughout his long career as one of the fittest cricketers in Australia.

Tim Paine pulls a ball for four while representing Tasmania in the side's recent loss to Queensland on October 8

Tim Paine pulls a ball for four while representing Tasmania in the side’s recent loss to Queensland on October 8

So it is only fitting that his self-punishment was in the form of long, gruelling runs, that led to him shedding quite a bit of weight.

He took a long break from cricket altogether after stepping down as captain, but has since returned to the field for Tasmania in the Sheffield Shield. 

It’s been a solid return for the swashbuckling lower-order batter and wicketkeeper, with 37 runs from his three innings so far this season to go with 11 catches behind the stumps. 

Daily Mail Australia has reached out to Cricket Australia for comment. 

For confidential 24-hour support in Australia call Lifeline on 13 11 14. You can also contact beyondblue at 1300 22 4636. 

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