Former Test captain Tim Paine has accused Cricket Australia of “hanging me out to dry” over the sexting scandal that saw him resign as skipper.
Paine quit on the eve of the 2021-22 Ashes series, when it became clear text messages from four years previously were about to be made public.
In his newly-released autobiography, The Price Paid, Paine says the 2017 text exchange with a Cricket Tasmania employee was “consensual and … it was unspeakably, unforgivably stupid.”
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Paine wrote that he was “thrown into a world of fear and panic” when CT boss Nick Cummins rang him in June 2018 to inform him the now ex-employee had told CT she had sexual messages and a picture sent by Paine.
A CA investigation at the time cleared Paine of a breach of the sport’s code of conduct.
“It was shameful on a personal level,” Paine wrote.
“The real victim in this was (wife) Bonnie, but professionally I was cleared.”
The wicketkeeper said he lived in constant fear over the next three years that the messages would become public, calling the worry “all-consuming.”
“I behaved poorly and I treated people poorly,” he wrote.
Tim Paine takes indefinite break from cricket
“I was doubling down and I am as ashamed of that as I am of that text exchange. More ashamed of it, actually.
“Looking back I was so anxious it made me grumpy and agitated and I was awful to be around.”
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The story exploded in November, 2021, when Paine’s manager, James Henderson, rang to tell him the story would break the next day.
“My worst nightmare was coming true,” he wrote.
Paine explained that he took part in a phone hook-up with CA boss Nick Hockley and an unnamed external consultant, where it became clear he no longer had the support of the CA board.
Tim Paine pads up after sexting scandal
“The consultant then said that the best way to get ahead of the story was if I stood down as captain,” he wrote.
“I was stunned by that, so was James. Who was this guy? What did he know about the circumstances? That was the first time anyone had mentioned me resigning as captain.
“Cricket Australia knew what had happened and in my mind this guy didn’t know, or worse than that, it was like he believed that I had sexually harassed her.
“Then Nick (Hockley) chimed in, saying how experienced this guy was and how he thought I should listen to his advice.
“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.
“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.”
Paine ended the call, and in a subsequent discussion that night with Henderson told him he would be quitting as Test skipper.
“I lay awake the rest of the night. I was so disappointed by this. I hadn’t seen it coming,” he wrote.
“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.”
After the tearful press conference where he announced his resignation, Paine said he turned off the radio in the car “and I reckon it stayed off for the rest of the summer.”
“When you are the news, you don’t want to hear it,” he wrote.
“I kept my cap pulled down and made sure I didn’t make eye contact with anyone as I drove.
“I felt like a fugitive and I was going to live like that for a long time to come.”
Paine said the situation at home with wife Bonnie was “awful” and he wasn’t eating or sleeping.
He played a Second XI match shortly after stepping down as captain, but “there was no way I could face people.”
“Every day was worse than the one before and as the game continued I realised that I was fooling myself,” he wrote.
“At one point, while waiting to bat, I’d locked myself in the toilet cubicle and cried my eyes out.
“I was no good.”
It was at that point he realised there was “no way I could play Test cricket.”
“I was someone who was a little cynical about mental health issues and sport,” he wrote.
“Sometimes when people pulled out of games citing mental health, it confused me because I’d be spending time with these people but they seemed fine, then when it happens to you … 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 worked with a psychiatrist and turned to running in an attempt to cope, noting “the bottom had fallen out of my world and I was in freefall.”
“I am a better person now, a good person,” he wrote.
“We’ve all made mistakes, but the husband and father I’ve started to become is worlds away from the one I was.
“I’ve redirected all the energy I put into captaining my country and getting the best out of myself into my personal life.
“This has opened my eyes. Cricket’s important but it is not as important as that.”
Paine played 33 of his 35 Test matches after the text exchange took place on the eve of his recall to the team in 2017, after more than seven years out of the side.
He now says he would have forgone the second part of his career if he could change the past.
“I don’t want to make any excuses – it was dumb, it was wrong, it was a breach of trust with my wife – but how was I so thoughtless, so self-indulgent?” he wrote.
“Why would I take such a stupid risk? I think maybe it was just a way of escaping from all the pressure I was under, it wasn’t that I was on a high about getting a second chance at Test cricket, it was a way to escape the reality of that, the stress of it.
“I’d have given up that second chance if I could have my time over again.”
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