Australian netball legend Liz Ellis says she was disappointed to see the way Cricket Australia and Cricket Tasmania have dealt with the resignation of former cricket captain Tim Paine.
Paine resigned from his role as captain of the Australian men’s test cricket team on Friday, after a series of lewd text messages he’d sent to a female colleague in 2017 were made public.
In 2018, an investigation into the matter by Cricket Tasmania found Paine’s actions had not breached its code of conduct, and Cricket Australia’s integrity unit also found it was not a breach of its code of conduct. The messages between Paine and the woman have been described by both organisations as “consensual” and Paine continued on in his role as captain.
Speaking on Nine’s Sports Sunday, Liz Ellis said she was disappointed by the wording of Cricket Tasmania’s statement following Paine’s resignation, and said the organisation tried to “discredit” its former employee, when it noted criminal charges against the woman involved “were still pending”.
“The allegations raised against Tim Paine by a former Cricket Tasmania employee were only brought to the attention of Cricket Tasmania when formal charges of theft were laid against that employee in mid 2018,” the statement said.
Ellis said it was worthwhile putting some context around the Paine text messaging saga and noted that the woman had made a workplace complaint.
“There’s talk about it being consensual at the time, but there was later a workplace complaint made, so I think we need to keep that in mind as well. That the person at the other end of the text messages did eventually make a complaint and I was disappointed to see Cricket Tasmania in the first line of their statement really try and discredit the woman involved,” she said.
“It was a terrible example of victim-blaming, and they probably need to have a long, hard look at themselves.”
Liz Ellis also had an issue with the way current chair of Cricket Australia, Richard Freudenstein, had passed on responsibility for the handling of the Paine incident to members of the board in previous years, before his tenure.
Speaking at press conference on Saturday, Freudnstein said he “can’t talk about the 2018 decision”, because he wasn’t there. “But I am saying based on the facts as they are today the board of Cricket Australia would not have made that decision.” Freudenstein was saying that the board in 2018 had made a mistake in allowing Paine to stay on as the Australian test captain.
“I acknowledge the decision clearly sent the wrong message that this behaviour is acceptable and without serious consequences. The role of Australian cricket captain must be held to the highest standards,” he said.
Liz Ellis said: “I feel like Richard Freudenstein has just passed the buck as well.”
“He’s saying ‘My board wouldn’t have done this’, but he got briefed when he came on board as chair, Nick Hockley, the CEO, he got briefed about this, so they knew well before any of this was blown up publicly. Why didn’t he make the decision then?”
“You can’t say, ‘Our board wouldn’t have done it’, if he didn’t make the decision when you knew about it, which was months ago.”
In a statement to Nine papers on Monday morning, David Peever, who was Cricket Australia’s chair at the time of the investigation in 2018, defended the then board’s decision to allow Paine to stay on as captain.
“After investigation, he was found not to have breached Cricket Australia’s code of conduct or any other rules, and the matter considered private and consensual between two adults. Why have a code of conduct if you are going to make up your own rules as you go?” Peever said.
“The current chairman has been on the board for two years and it is implausible he didn’t know about it. If he and his board felt so strongly about it, why wait until now to act?”