Paine says he was urged to resign by Cricket Australia consultant

Tim Paine says he was urged to resign as Australian men’s captain by a corporate communications consultant in a call with Cricket Australia’s chief executive Nick Hockley.

While Paine’s resignation as captain, following the publication of a story about explicit texts and a photo he had shared with a Cricket Tasmania staffer in November 2017, was characterised as voluntary, he has outlined in his new book how he felt he was left with no choice.

Tim Paine during his public resignation as Australian men’s Test captain in November 2021.Credit:Nine News

“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,” Paine wrote in The Price Paid, released on Tuesday. “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. 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, so was James [Henderson, Paine’s manager]. Who was this guy? What did he know about the circumstances? That was the first time anyone had mentioned me resigning as captain. There was no way I was doing that.”

Paine then challenged Hockley over whether Cricket Australia was asking him to resign, but found the main advice was coming from the consultant.

“Nick chimed in, saying how experienced this guy was and how he thought I should listen to his advice,” Paine wrote. “I said, ‘do you want me to resign as Test captain, Nick?’ He couldn’t give me a straight answer, or wouldn’t. He kept talking around in circles.

“And this guy said, ‘if you resign as Test captain it will take the air out of it but if you stay on they are going to keep coming at you’. I think he said I wouldn’t last until Monday and I replied that I would if they backed me in.

“I said to Nick, ‘you and the board know what’s happened, you have an integrity report that clears me of any wrongdoing to anybody and that it was a personal matter’. 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.”

While still on the call, Paine initially stated that he wanted to stick to plans agreed between Henderson and Cricket Australia’s former chief executive, James Sutherland, in 2018 that the governing body would back Paine if the story had become public.

“Cricket Australia were going to back me in public if anything came out,” Paine recalled earlier in the book, “and my manager worked with then chief executive James Sutherland to prepare a statement if needed.”

But Paine soon reflected that he had no other option but to resign.

“I think I finished the call by saying, ‘I’ve had enough of this, I’m going to bed’. James [Henderson] rang me back immediately. ‘They’re not going to back me in, I’m done,’ I told him and then I lay awake the rest of the night,” Paine said. “I was so disappointed by this. I hadn’t seen it coming. It was obvious the board wanted me to resign and I had no option if they weren’t going to back me.

“I felt they were driven by the need to protect their image, they’d got in someone to look after them and he’d decided that I had to be sacrificed to save them, they were hanging me out to dry. The board had met that night and it was clear to me that they wanted to cut and run.

“I think that’s why they got Nick and the consultant to call me. There was a feeling that if I didn’t stand down, they’d stand me down. In the morning I told [my wife] Bonnie I was going to stand down as Test captain.”

Cricket Australia and Hockley have been contacted for comment.

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