SYDNEY (AFP) - Cricket Tasmania launched a scathing attack on the sport’s Australian governing body Tuesday over its "appalling" treatment of former Test skipper Tim Paine, saying anger in the community was "palpable".
Paine, who was born and bred in Tasmania, tearfully quit as captain on Friday ahead of the Ashes against England over a series of lewd text messages with a female colleague in 2017 that were about to be made public.
He insisted he wasn’t pushed out, but Cricket Tasmania chair Andrew Gaggin said Cricket Australia should have shown him more loyalty.
"In conversations I have had in recent days it is clear that the anger amongst the Tasmanian cricket community and general public is palpable," he said in a statement.
"Tim Paine has been a beacon for Australian cricket over the past four years and instrumental in salvaging the reputation of the national team after the calamity of Cape Town.
"Yet, at a time when CA should have supported Tim, he was evidently regarded as dispensable."
Paine took over in March 2018 in the wake of the "sandpaper-gate" scandal that rocked Australian cricket.
Then-captain Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner were forced to step down for their roles in trying to alter the condition of the ball during a Cape Town Test against South Africa.
Gaggin branded Paine’s treatment by CA "appalling -- the worst since Bill Lawry over 50 years ago".
Lawry became the first Australian Test cricket captain to be dropped from a team midway through the 1970-71 series against England -- finding out from reporters.
Australia’s cricket authorities investigated the sexting allegations against Paine in 2018 and cleared him of any code of conduct breach.
However at the weekend, current Cricket Australia chair Richard Freudenstein, who was elected to the board in 2019, said it was a mistake not to axe him at the time.
Gaggin said Paine "should not have been put in a position where he felt the need to resign over an incident that was determined by an independent inquiry at the time to not be a breach of the code of conduct".
Meanwhile, chief selector George Bailey will step aside from voting on whether Paine should remain in the team as a player if there is a split decision, given they have a close personal and business relationship.
Despite relinquishing the captaincy, Paine still wants to be considered for selection as wicketkeeper for the opening Ashes Test in Brisbane on December 8.
The decision will be made by a three-man selection panel comprising Bailey, coach Justin Langer and the recently appointed Tony Dodemaide.
"If the panel was not in agreeance with Tim’s position going forward and it was going to come down to a vote, then I would step aside and leave that to Tony and Justin to work through," Bailey said on the Cricket Etc podcast.
Working against Paine is a lack of match practice after invasive surgery in September for pain in his neck and left arm due to a bulging disc.
He made his return for Tasmania’s second XI on Monday, grabbing six catches.
If selectors opt against him, Alex Carey is seen as favourite to take the gloves in Brisbane.