Brisbane, Dec 9 (IANS): Cricket Australia CEO Nick Hockley said on Thursday that he would love to see wicketkeeper-batter Tim Paine play cricket again. At the same time, Hockley insisted that it was Paines decision to step away from captaincy, which was supported by the board as well.
A tearful Paine stepped down as the Test captain, just three weeks away from the start of the Ashes at The Gabba after his lewd text exchanges with a former Cricket Tasmania employee from 2017 came into light. After a few days, his manager announced that he will be taking an indefinite mental health break from all forms of the game.
"Absolutely, we would love to see Tim play again for both his state and for Australia. We want to see him back out there playing and performing as quickly as possible," Hockley told SEN Test Cricket.
After the Paine text saga came into light, Cricket Australia also received a lot of flak for the way the issue was handled in 2017. But Hockley, appointed permanently as the CEO in May this year, praised Paine's time as the captain when the Sandpaper Gate scandal caused a lot of turbulence in 2018.
"It's obviously just a really, really difficult situation. Let's not forget that it was Tim's decision to step aside and that was a decision the board felt was appropriate. He's been an exemplary captain throughout his three years, done a phenomenal job and it's just a very, very difficult situation. While he's made a big mistake, he's owned it, and he's stepped aside to prioritise and look after his family. We've really sought to support him."
"Everyone really wants to support him as best we can. He made a big mistake, he served Australian cricket as captain supremely well over the last number of years, he's paid an enormously high price. The head coach has been down to see him, we've had members of our high performance set up go down to Tassie. The Tasmanian cricket community have put their arms around him. We're all very, very concerned to make sure Tim is well supported. A lot of respect for Tim for owning his mistake and our job now is to really support him."