Tim Paine's staggering admission over cricket sexting scandal

Tim Paine is pictured in a Sheffield Shield match for Tasmania.
Tim Paine says he felt 'abandoned' by Cricket Australia as his 2017 sexting scandal came to light in 2021, admitting his mental health suffered as a result. (Photo by PATRICK HAMILTON/AFP /AFP via Getty Images)

Tim Paine has claimed Cricket Australia sought only to protect their own image after he stood down as Test captain, in the wake of a sexting scandal going public in 2021.

The former skipper says his mental health deteriorated after he stepped away from the national team last November, revealing more about the saga in his recently released autobiography, The Price Paid.

A text message exchange dating back to 2017 with former Cricket Tasmania employee Renee Ferguson was made public late last year, forcing Paine's hand despite him having been cleared of wrongdoing by a Cricket Australia investigation in 2018.

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Paine has long maintained his innocence with regard to the 2018 investigation, announcing his snap retirement from the sport last November and revealing details of a conversation between himself and CA boss Nick Hockley the night before he did so, with an unnamed CA public relations consultant on the line as well.

The 37-year-old said he felt it was abundantly clear that CA were not concerned about damage to his own reputation and were only worried about their own image.

"I felt they were driven by the need to protect their image ... they were hanging me out to dry," Paine wrote.

"I was prepared to cop the flak for what I did, but in my mind Cricket Australia had abandoned me and made it look like they thought I'd sexually harassed someone."

Tim Paine fronts a press conference to announce his cricket retirement in 2021.
Tim Paine has maintained his innocence after being cleared of wrongdoing by Cricket Australia in a 2018 investigation into his off-field conduct. (Photo by PATRICK HAMILTON/AFP via Getty Images)

Paine was cleared of wrongdoing in relation to the text messages by a CA investigation in 2018 and maintains the exchange was consensual.

The day after Paine announced his resignation, CA chair Richard Freudenstein told media the current board would not have endorsed him as captain following the investigation.

"The one thing that got me later was when Cricket Australia said that they would have handled it differently to the way it was done in 2017," Paine wrote.

"The reality was they were happy to defend me and accept I hadn't breached their code of conduct as long as it was kept private.

"If the story hadn't run, I would still be captain and if Cricket Australia had handled it like they said they would I would still be playing for Australia.

"For seven days they tried to quash the story and the only time it became different was when it was going to become public."

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Paine said he asked for a copy of the investigation integrity report but has never received one, and also asked for copies to be given to media.

Paine took a break from the sport about a week after resigning as Test captain but has since returned to play Sheffield Shield cricket for Tasmania this season.

He revealed he sought professional help for his mental health and felt so ashamed about what he had inflicted on wife Bonnie, his two children and family.

"I couldn't control my thoughts, it was shocking. No matter how many times I tried to pull myself together, my mind just fell apart," Paine wrote.

"I had some horrendous thoughts in that period. Like maybe it would be easier for people if I wasn't here."

Ms Ferguson has taken legal action against Cricket Tasmania, alleging she was sexually harassed by several former colleagues.

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