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Tim Paine Cricket Australia news: Liz Ellis grills Mark Taylor over text message investigation


Aussie netball legend Liz Ellis has grilled former Aussie captain Mark Taylor after pointing out Cricket Australia’s most damning claim.

Aussie netball legend Liz Ellis has savaged Cricket Australia and the way the sporting body has attempted to deal with former captain Tim Paine’s bombshell resignation.

The wicketkeeper quit his role as captain of the Australian Test cricket team on Friday, brought down by a series of lewd texts he’d sent to a former Cricket Tasmania employee.

The Herald Sun was first to reveal Paine had sent the woman a “d*** pic”, among other sexually charged messages, on the eve of the 2017/18 Ashes series.

Subsequently, in an emotional statement to the media on Friday afternoon, Paine stood aside as captain.

The saga took another dramatic turn on Saturday when Cricket Australia (CA) chairman Richard Freudenstein admitted the organisation made a mistake to not disclose Paine’s sexting scandal earlier, having investigated the matter in 2018.

He said Paine would not have been elevated to the captaincy within Australian cricket’s current culture.

Freudenstein’s comments piled the blame on the previous Cricket Australia board of directors in 2018 when the sport was led by chief executive James Sutherland and former chairman David Peever. Ex-Test captain Mark Taylor was also a board member at the time.

It emerged in Saturday’s Zoom press conference involving Freudenstein and CA chief executive Nick Hockley that both had been aware of Paine’s sexting scandal when they were appointed to their positions at the top of the organisation.

They took no action when made aware.

Ellis slammed the damning contradiction in the comments made by Freudenstein when she addressed the scandal on Nine’s Sports Sunday.

“It’s worthwhile pointing out, I feel like Richard Freudenstein has just passed the buck as well because he’s saying, ‘My board wouldn’t have done this’. But he got briefed when he came on board as chair, Nick Hockley got briefed about this,” Ellis said.

“So they knew well before any of this has blown up publicly.

“Why didn’t he make the decision then? You can’t say, ‘Our board wouldn’t have done it’ if you didn’t make the decision when you knew about it, which was months ago.”

‘A terrible example of victim blaming’

A Cricket Tasmania human investigation found Paine had not committed a breach of the organisation’s code of conduct, while CA’s Integrity Unit investigation also cleared Paine of a code of conduct breach.

In a statement on Friday, Cricket Tasmania’s first line said: “The allegations raised against Tim Paine by a former Cricket Tasmania employee were only brought to the attention of Cricket Tasmania when formal charges of theft were laid against that employee in mid 2018.”

They added “the interaction was consensual, private, occurred on the one occasion only, was between mature adults and was not repeated”.

Freudenstein originally said in a statement CA “does not condone this type of language or behaviour”. However, CA, Cricket Tasmania and the Australian Cricketers’ Association all described the text exchange between Paine and his former Cricket Tasmania colleague as “consensual”.

Ellis said the woman involved in the text exchange with Paine had been “discredited” as Taylor — a CA director in 2018 when an investigation into the matter was conducted — also described the exchange as “consensual” while sitting alongside Ellis as a fellow panellist on Sports Sunday.

“It’s worthwhile putting some context around that as well Mark, in that there’s talk about it was consensual at the time but there was later a workplace complaint made,” Ellis said.

“I think we need to keep that in mind as well, that the person at the other end of the text messages did eventually make a complaint.

“I was disappointed to see Cricket Tasmania in the first line of their statement really try and discredit the woman involved. That was a terrible example of victim blaming and they probably need to have a long hard look at themselves.”

Ellis pays tribute to Paine’s wife

Ellis also spoke highly of how Paine’s wife Bonnie has handled herself throughout this saga.

“The other woman I really feel sorry for here is Bonnie Paine,” Ellis said. “It breaks my heart to think that she had been with Tim for 10 years. She had been through those lows when he was first playing Test cricket and then he went through, by his own admission, some terrible lows before he was recalled.

“She went through that with him and to think of her sitting at home with a newborn on what should have been her husband’s proudest day … and he wasn’t thinking of his job and he wasn’t thinking of her, he was thinking of sending these text messages — I am heartbroken for her.”

Bonnie and Tim Paine fielded questions together in an exclusive interview with The Herald Sun, published on Sunday, where the cricketer’s wife lamented the “injustice” of the sexting scandal being dragged up again years after it happened.

“My heart really goes out to her (Bonnie) and I think she’s shown great fortitude through this, and particularly through that interview,” Ellis said.

“It brings me no joy to talk about the Paines and their relationship.”

Taylor grilled over CA decisions

CA’s Integrity Unit investigated Paine’s sexually charged messages in 2018 — after Paine was appointed captain following the infamous sandpaper scandal in South Africa that rocked Australian cricket.

Ellis grilled Taylor about his role as a former CA board member and why the investigation into Paine was kept quiet at the time.

Taylor was adamant the decision to keep the investigation confidential was made for the good of all parties involved.

He also agreed it was the right move for Paine to step down on Friday, leading Ellis to ask why, if it’s the right decision now, was it not the right decision three years ago when CA kept him on as captain.

“I think we really need to focus on the Cricket Australia board and the culture and those bigger questions,” Ellis said.

“If he should step down now, why wasn’t it good enough to step down when the board found out about this (in 2018) and you didn’t have to make it public?”

Ellis also complained about the silence from former CA chairman David Peever, saying not hearing from him is “incredibly disappointing because as chair, the buck stops with him”.

Taylor defended his board’s decision to ignore Paine’s sexting history when the 36-year-old was appointed full-time captain in 2018, after Steve Smith copped a one-year ban from international cricket.

He reiterated the decision not to make the investigation public was in the best interests of Paine and the woman who made the complaint, and denied any accusations of a “toxic culture” at Cricket Australia.

Taylor also spoke about how he believes the CA board made the right decision with the information it had at the time about Paine’s sexting episode.

“As a board and as I’m sure our management of Cricket Australia at the time, you don’t have three-and-a-half years of hindsight,” Taylor said.

“You have to make decisions at the time which you believe are in the best interests of all the parties concerned, with the information that you have at the time.”

Taylor also said he feels Paine is a different man now to the one who sent those test messages in 2017.

“Firstly, I’m still saddened and find it quite distressing to see what unfolded on Friday,” Taylor said.

“To see Tim, a bit like his predecessor (Steve Smith), have to stand down in tears is not something I enjoyed watching. I find it quite distressing. Particularly for Tim who I think has done so much for Australian cricket since obviously the sandpaper-gate scandal of March of 2018, to restore pride in our national team and faith in our national team.

“To see it end that way, as I said, greatly saddens me, but just looking at what he said there at the end — I like the fact that he stood up and owned the responsibility for it.

“His actions are inappropriate. Having said that, bear in mind it’s important to note that he sent them, not as the Australian cricket team captain, as a guy who played four Test matches at that stage for Australia.”

Taylor also took a thinly-veiled swipe at Freudenstein for the current chairman’s apparent move to heap blame on the previous administration.

“Three or four years of hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?” Taylor said.

“I don’t know if … he has any more information that the Integrity Unit had of Cricket Australia in 2018.

“I think it’s interesting to note that even now, having said that, the chairman of Cricket Australia, they didn’t stand Tim down. He stood down, he resigned himself.”

Paine’s lewd text messages exposed

Paine said in his emotional press conference on Friday he “deeply regrets” the sexually charged text message exchange with the former Cricket Tasmania colleague.

It comes after The Herald Sun published new text messages exchanged between the woman and Paine in which both of them write they could face consequences if the messages ever became public.

“We’re both f***ed if this got out,” the woman texted.

Paine reportedly responded by sending an image of his penis with a caption: “True, so f—ked”.

It comes after a series of sexually charged messages Paine sent to the woman were published in the hours prior to his resignation on Friday.

In his statement, Paine said: “Although exonerated (by CA’s Integrity Unit investigation), I deeply regretted this incident at the time, and still do today. I spoke to my wife and family at the time and am enormously grateful for their forgiveness and support.

“We thought this incident was behind us and that I could focus entirely on the team, as I have done for the last three or four years. However, I recently became aware that this private text exchange was going to become public.

“On reflection, my actions in 2017 do not meet the standard of an Australian cricket captain, or the wider community. I’m deeply sorry for the hurt and pain that I have caused to my wife, my family, and to the other party.

“I’m sorry for any damage that this does to the reputation of our sport. And I believe that it is the right decision for me to stand down as captain, effective immediately. I do not want this to become an unwelcome disruption to the team ahead of what is a huge Ashes series.

“I have loved my role as captain of the Australian cricket team. It’s been the greatest privilege of my sporting life to lead the Australian men’s Test team. I’m grateful for the support of my teammates and proud of what we’ve been able to achieve together. To them, I ask for their understanding and forgiveness.

“To Australian cricket fans — I’m deeply sorry that my past behaviour has impacted our game on the eve of the Ashes. For the disappointment I have caused to fans and the entire cricket community, I apologise.”



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