In backdrop of ball tampering saga, Cricket Australia takes missteps on Tim Paine

CA has issued a statement saying that they don’t condone such behaviour. But if it was un-condonable behaviour, why did they condone it and make him the captain after an enquiry in ’18? How did he escape penalties for breaching the code then?

Not long after he had allegedly sexted an employee of Cricket Tasmania with unsolicited graphic images, and immediately after he had been elevated to captainship after the ball-tampering scandal, Tim Paine had assured Australians, “We know what’s wrong. We know what’s right. We know what Australian cricket expects of us. And we will be holding each other accountable.” It turns out Cricket Australia certainly didn’t. Consider this: Steve Smith, David Warner and the Australian cricketing ethos, all were brutally damaged by the tampering scandal. Players had literally cried, as Paine would do now, as they headed into year-long bans to pacify the Australian public’s outcry. A report titled ‘Elite honesty’ was introduced by CA to specify the culture they wanted. And yet, they foisted Paine as the skipper. The duplicity is stark.

CA has issued a statement saying that they don’t condone such behaviour. But if it was un-condonable behaviour, why did they condone it and make him the captain after an enquiry in ’18? How did he escape penalties for breaching the code then? Even in a normal context, this would have been jarring but in the backdrop of the tampering saga, it was worse. The optimists in Australian media are trying to see this as a watershed moment and hoping it could set right workplace practices.

However, the optimism seems self-deception. There was no need to make Paine the captain. He wasn’t a player of stature. He wasn’t even a regular playing member; and had contemplated quitting the game not long ago. But in CA’s mind, he had the face that could have filled the advertisement of a happy family man. “Elite honesty”, apparently, the Cricket Australia way.

This editorial first appeared in the print edition on November 20, 2021 under the title ‘Elite dishonesty’.

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