Sydney (AFP) – Tim Paine, who stepped down as test skipper on Friday, was hailed as the savior of Australian cricket when he took command in 2018 after a ball tampering scandal left the team’s reputation in shreds.
A fellow wicket keeper and batsman, Paine was 33 at the time and was considering retirement before being unexpectedly named to the most scrutinized role in Australian sport.
Cricket Australia felt the soft-spoken Tasmanian would provide an antidote to the swaggering, sledding and winning attitude at all costs which led to the Sandpaper-gate cheating affair in South Africa.
The scandal was the lowest ebb in Australian cricket in generations and Paine was seen as the catalyst for cultural change.
He lived up to expectations ahead of his first game in charge, speaking of sportsmanship and respect for his opponents, before telling reporters that “cricket is a gentleman’s game”.
“We are trying to take it one day at a time, trying to restore respect to the cricket world, our fans and the cricket public,” he said.
Paine, now 36, has redefined the role of captain and won widespread acclaim for reforming a toxic team culture.
But he has now suddenly resigned – less than three weeks before a successful Ashes home streak against England – for what he described as an inappropriate ‘private text exchange’ with a colleague.
Cricket Australia said the scandal did not constitute a breach of the code of conduct and President Richard Freudenstein praised the way he had led the team.
“Despite the mistake he made, Tim has been an exceptional leader since his appointment and the board thanks him for his distinguished service,” he said.
He added that Paine would still be available for selection, although in reality he is behind rival wicket keepers Alex Carey and fit Josh Inglis, and he may have played his last test.
Paine’s leadership had already started to be questioned and most believed his advanced age would see him drop the armband after the Ashes.
Paine contested 35 tests after making his debut in 2010, only to see his international career derail for years because of a broken finger that required numerous surgeries.
It was a surprise call for the 2017 Ashes series, with former leg spinner Stuart MacGill the “goofs posing as mentors” brand selectors on the unlikely choice.
While many viewed Paine as the right captain at the right time after his appointment in 2018, there were doubts about his low-profile leadership style, especially after India claimed its first-ever series victory in Australia in 2018-19. .
But Australia retained the Ashes in England in 2019 and series wins over New Zealand and Pakistan followed, giving Paine a record in his 23 tests as captain of 11 wins, eight losses and four. zero.
There were times when Paine’s kind image slipped and he was caught sledding the field, but he was still contrite and vowed to do better.
© 2021 AFP