Australian cricket coach Justin Langer has gone in to bat for former captain Tim Paine and knocked critics for six in the wake of the ex-skipper’s sexting scandal.
Langer came out on the front foot to smash the relentless attacks on Paine as a hypocritical pursuit of false ‘perfectionism’.
‘Our captain, one of the best, made a mistake and is paying a heavy price for it,’ Langer slammed, ahead of the first Ashes Test at the Gabba on Wednesday.
‘What I continually see in this job and see in the society we live in – it’s brutal. We live in a world of perfectionism, don’t we? We are a very judgmental society.’
Australian cricket coach Justin Langer (pictured) has slammed the attacks on Tim Paine, who stood down as Test captain in November after a sexting scandal from 2017 was made public
Justin Langer confirmed Tim Paine’s priority is his family following the highly publicised sexting scandal, which resulted in the wicketkeeper (pictured here with wife Bonnie) taking an indefinite break from the sport
Langer was appointed coach in 2018 in the wake of the ‘sandpapergate’ scandal in South Africa, and he said he saw similarities in the outrage that have followed both.
‘As I said in my very first press conference [in 2018] when I was asked about Steve Smith and David Warner and Cameron Bancroft, there’s not one person who is asking questions here, or who is on the camera here, or who is listening to this or watching who hasn’t made a mistake in their life,’ he said.
‘There’s not a single person. You learn your lessons, but we live in an unforgiving society. And that’s a shame.’
Langer still believes Paine may one day return to the Australian Test side.
‘He (Paine) loves cricket. He absolutely loves cricket,’ he said. ‘And he’s 37. He is a fit as any athlete, certainly in our squad. He looks after himself so well.
He’s very focused, so who knows. His number one priority at the moment is family as you can imagine, and that’s how it should be.
‘I’m not sure we’ve seen the end of him. But we’ll wait and see. That’ll be his decision.’
Langer said Paine remained ‘one of my really close friends’ and ‘someone I admire enormously’.
But he acknowledged the life of the wicketkeeper had changed dramatically in recent weeks amid concerns for the fallen hero’s mental health.
The passionate defence comes after Langer flew from Brisbane to Hobart late last month to personally check on the welfare of his former skipper.
Paine resigned from the prized position on November 19 when it emerged he sent sexually explicit messages to an employee of Cricket Tasmania in 2017.
Cricket Tasmania became aware of the texts in mid-2018, with an investigation by the organisation and Cricket Australia clearing him of any code of conduct breaches.
Paine then announced he was taking an indefinite break from the sport.
Tim Paine (left) was recently visited by coach Justin Langer (right with Paine), who flew to Hobart from Brisbane to see first-hand the mental state of his former skipper
Langer and Paine worked closely together to rebuild the national team after the 2018 ball tampering scandal.
Paine told news.com.au that Langer wanted him to remain as captain.
‘JL (Justin Langer) told me he’s devastated,’ Paine said.
‘He was pretty firm that he wanted me to continue as captain, and again, once I explained to him the reasons that I thought resigning was the best thing to do, he was with me all the way.’
Paine, 36, sent a photo of his penis to a female co-worker along with a stream of lewd text messages in 2017
Teammates also reportedly still wanted the veteran wicketkeeper to play the first Ashes Test at the Gabba against England beginning on Wednesday.
Cricket Tasmania then confirmed he wouldn’t play in the recent one-dayer versus Western Australia on November 26, with his manager James Henderson later stating Paine was ‘stepping away from cricket for an indefinite mental health break’.
He posted on Twitter that there were ‘extreme concerns’ for the well-being of Paine and his wife Bonnie.
Paine was investigated by Cricket Australia in 2018 after former Cricket Tasmania staffer Renee Ferguson complained, but cleared of misconduct and the matter was kept secret.
He sent a photo of his penis to the female co-worker along with a stream of lewd text messages, many of which are too raunchy to publish.
‘Will you want to taste my d**?? F**k me, I’m seriously hard,’ one of the messages sent to the Cricket Tasmania employee read.
The lewd messages were sent on November 22 and 23, 2017, the eve and morning of the first Ashes Test at the Gabba in Brisbane.
‘We’re both f**ked if this got out,’ Ms Ferguson wrote in one text to Paine.
Despite this, she complained in 2018 about ‘Mr Paine’s sexually explicit, unwelcome and unsolicited photograph of his genitals in addition to the graphic sexual comments’.
Bonnie Paine has stood by her husband after the sexting scandal went public (pictured, together in 2020 at the Australian Cricket Awards at the Crown Palladium in Melbourne)
Tim Paine and coach Justin Langer (pictured) forged a close bond after the wicketkeeper became Test skipper in 2018
She is said to have been taken aback by the comments and pornographic photo, which she found offensive.
However, the complaints were only made about seven months later when Ms Ferguson was charged with stealing. Those charges are still before the courts.
Cricket Tasmania chairman Andrew Gaggin said Ms Ferguson was earlier sacked by the organisation, but did not bring the messages up at the time.
Ms Ferguson interacted with Paine on and off for about a year, and both parties were flirtatious in the leaked messages.
But conversation took a sudden turn with the cricketer’s explicit messages just before she resigned from Cricket Tasmania.
She sent a letter to Cricket Australia and Cricket Tasmania, as well as the Australian Human Rights Commission, complaining of sexual harassment.
Ms Ferguson has also filed a bombshell sexual harassment claim in Federal Court, but her lawsuit does not relate to Paine in any way, instead to another man in the Cricket Tasmania office.
Her claims she was subjected to sexual banter at Cricket Tasmania, and alleges she was told to ‘get on snap [Snapchat] you mole’.
Bowler Pat Cummins (pictured) will now lead out Australia in the first Ashes Test from December 8 in Brisbane after Tim Paine stepped aside following the sexting scandal
Paine’s wife Bonnie (pictured) was aware of the sexting scandal from 2017 – but chose to stand by her husband
Tim Paine (pictured) was in tears as he announced his resignation as Australia’s Test captain in a statement on November 19
Paine announced his resignation in a statement on November 19 and held a press conference where he tearfully apologised.
‘It’s an incredibly difficult decision, but the right one for me, my family, and cricket,’ he said.
‘Nearly four years ago, I was involved in a text exchange with a then-colleague.
‘At the time, the exchange was the subject of a thorough CA Integrity Unit investigation, throughout which I fully participated in and openly participated in.
‘That investigation and a Cricket Tasmania HR investigation at the same time found that there had been no breach of the Cricket Australia Code of Conduct.
‘Although exonerated, I deeply regretted this incident at the time, and still do today. I spoke to my wife and family at the time and am enormously grateful for their forgiveness and support.’
Mrs Paine, who found out about the texts at the time, said she forgave her husband and claimed that the incident made their marriage stronger.
‘Although I had mixed emotions, and I felt betrayed, and I felt hurt, upset, and I felt pissed off, I also had feelings of gratitude because he was being so honest with me. I thought, OK, do I walk? Or forgive and rebuild? I chose the latter,’ she told the Herald Sun after the scandal was made public.
Tim Paine’s rise and dramatic fall in sexting scandal
Australian captain Tim Paine walks to change ends during a cricket test against India at the Sydney Cricket Ground, in Sydney, Australia on Jan. 9, 2021
2010: Tim Paine makes his Test debut against Pakistan, replacing injured Brad Haddin, but is dumped upon the incumbent’s return
April 2016: Paine marries Bonnie Maggs
November 17, 2017: Granted shock recall for Ashes series
November 22-23, 2017: Paine sends lewd messages to a female coworker on the eve and morning of the first Ashes Test in Brisbane. The pair had exchanged texts throughout the year
January 2018: Selected for squad to tour South Africa
March 25, 2018: Appointed interim captain after Steve Smith and David Warner stood down over ‘sandpapergate’ ball tampering scandal
March 28, 2018: Paine is appointed captain for the 4th Test of the series, becoming the 46th captain of the Australian side
April 2018: Awarded a national contract by Cricket Australia
June 2018: Cricket Australia and Cricket Tasmania become aware of the messages and launch an investigation, following a complaint from the woman. Paine claims he was exonerated during the investigation. His wife Bonnie was aware of the messages but chose to stick by him
2018 – 2021: Paine continues as Test captain, retaining the Ashes in England in 2019
November 19, 2021: Paine steps down as full details of the explicit messages surface