Politics

Why Tim Paine sent explicit text messages: Justin Langer captaincy call, wife Bonnie reacts


Tim Paine has revealed why he sexted a colleague the morning of his first Test in seven years while his pregnant wife was grieving for her dead dad.

Tim Paine said Australian coach Justin Langer wanted him to remain as Test skipper, as he revealed why he sent explicit text messages while speaking of his “distress” and “embarrassment” over the scandal that cost him his job.

The 36-year-old abruptly quit on Friday ahead of the Ashes series against England over a string of lewd text messages with a female Cricket Tasmania staffer in 2017 that he had learnt were about to be made public.

Paine insisted it was his decision to resign as captain and he wasn’t pushed.

“It was mine and mine alone,” he told the Sunday Herald Sun in a revealing tell-all interview with wife Bonnie.

“It was hard, but I know it’s the right thing to do. I feel completely gutted, but it’s all my doing, and I know resigning is the right call.”

Paine said “plenty of people” wanted him to stay on, including Langer. “JL (Justin Langer) told me he’s devastated,” he said.

“He was pretty firm that he wanted me to continue as captain, and again, once I explained to him the reasons that I thought resigning was the best thing to do, he was with me all the way.

“I’ve got messages from all my teammates saying they’ve got my back, and that we all make mistakes, and we move on,” Paine added, insisting none of them had prior knowledge of the incident.

The series of sexually graphic exchanges were investigated in 2018 but Paine was cleared by Cricket Tasmania and CA’s integrity unit of breaching their code of conduct.

However, current CA chairman Richard Freudenstein, who was elected to the board in 2019, on Saturday admitted it was the wrong call to keep Paine as captain and he should have been relieved of his leadership duties at the time.

Why Paine sent explicit texts

Paine, who has two children with Bonnie, said the text message exchanges began as normal communications with a Cricket Tasmania colleague “but then it became a flirtatious exchange that should never have”.

Asked why he took it to the next level, he replied: “Maybe it’s as simple as stupidity? Or an inflated ego? Or feeling needed or wanted, being flattering.

“Or that it was dangerous or risque? I don’t know, I’m not sure. But I know I wish I hadn’t, and it’ll be a life of regret that I did.”

Paine denied any physical relationship with the woman.

The wicketkeeper admitted he always feared the media would break the story and it had been a stressful time reliving the incident after he and Bonnie had worked through their issues.

“I feel terrible, to be honest. Although Bonnie and I have both known about all this for three years, to have it played out like this is really distressing, and upsetting, and I’m really embarrassed,” Paine said.

“I feel sick for Bonnie, and for my family more than anything else.”

Revelations made in wide-ranging interview

Paine and Bonnie made several other revelations in the wide-ranging interview, including:

Bonnie feels it has been an “injustice” that the family has had to deal with the situation again in public years after claiming to have made their peace.

— Paine says the lewd texts were only sent over an 18-hour period and did not happen again.

— He says he told Bonnie about the situation in May, 2018, after he had first been told by a Cricket Tasmania official that a complaint had been made.

— Paine will “potentially” end his Test career at the end of the 2021-22 Ashes series, saying a victorious series against England this summer would be a “dream” way for his career to finish; and

— Bonnie was dealing with the death of her father around the same time Paine told her about the text message exchange. She was also caring for daughter Milla and was pregnant with the couple’s second child Charlie, who is now two-years-old.

Why Bonnie forgave Paine

Bonnie opened up on her decision to forgive her husband, despite admitting it was “horrific” when they worked through the issue three years ago.

“I have a bit of sympathy for Tim. A lot actually. He and I went through all of this privately in 2018,” she said.

“I feel a bit frustrated that it’s all been brought up and aired in the public when we put it to bed years ago. I have moved forward since then. I feel like there is a lot of injustice for it being dragged out again.”

Bonnie said she was “shocked” to find out about the sexting scandal, adding: “I don’t claim to be perfect, but I was still completely rocked.”

Bonnie also stressed the “need to forgive” in marriages and said she found it extremely tough to watch Paine’s emotional press conference on Friday.

“It broke my heart to be honest,” Bonnie said. “It’s sad that he felt he had to step down as captain over it, and I just think that’s unfair. I felt sad for him.

“My trust was a bit shattered from it and learning to try and trust again, was a process. I had my doubts, and there were times where I wanted to leave, and there were times I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. It was very confusing. It did take a long time for us to be strong again, and for us to be in a good place, but we are now.”

Ellis takes aim at CA

Meanwhile, Aussie netball legend Liz Ellis has slammed Cricket Australia and the way the sporting body has attempted to deal with Paine’s bombshell resignation.

Freudenstein, who was made CA chairman this year, admitted the organisation made a mistake to not disclose Paine’s sexting scandal earlier following the 2018 investigation. He also 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.

It emerged in a Zoom press conference on Saturday 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 — but they took no action when informed of the matter.

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.”



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