Tim Paine scandal | Unlikely to play for Australia again, says Mark Taylor

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Tim Paine’s international career is likely over following his decision to take an indefinite break from cricket, according to former captain Mark Taylor.

Paine pulled out of Tasmania’s scheduled Marsh Cup match against Western Australia, with Cricket Tasmania saying in a statement that he would be “taking a leave of absence from all forms of cricket for the foreseeable future.”

Cricket Australia said in a separate statement that selectors would meet in the coming days to discuss the squad for the first Test on December 8, which is ironically Paine’s 37th birthday.

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It’s been exactly a week since Paine’s bombshell resignation as Australian captain, brought about by a sexting scandal that dated back to 2017. Paine was investigated by both CT and CA in 2018, and cleared of any code of conduct breaches.

Prior to last week’s announcement there had been speculation Paine would retire after this summer’s Ashes series.

Taylor, who captained Australia in 50 Tests, says Paine’s decision to take a break has almost certainly ended his international career, given the Ashes will be played in such a condensed timeframe.

“I feel unfortunately it probably has, and like any cricket loving person, it really saddens me to see that Tim Paine will more than likely never play for Australia again,” he told Wide World of Sports.

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“To go from the captain who helped steer us out of the troubles of South Africa, to see this, is saddening for the game of cricket.

“Yes he made a mistake and he admitted to that, but, wow, he’s paid a huge price for it.”

Paine’s manager, James Henderson, confirmed that Paine would be away from the game for an “indefinite” period.

“We are extremely concerned for his and Bonnie’s well-being and will be making no further comment at this time,” he tweeted.

Taylor explained that the public pile-on since Paine’s announcement last Friday wasn’t necessary.

“All of us, no matter whether you’re an Australian captain or not, we’re all people first,” he said.

“We’re all humans. People say that professional athletes have to behave in a certain way, and then they expect the reaction in a certain way.

“But no matter who you are, you make mistakes. And secondly, you have feelings about those mistakes. No matter who you are, and what you’ve dealt with in the past, eventually that weighs you down.

“I’m deeply saddened by Tim leaving the game as he has today, but not surprised, because the weight he has carried over the last three years, and especially over the last week, it must be terrible for him, absolutely dreadful.”

Taylor stepped down from the Test captaincy in January, 1999, and retired completely after playing out the rest of the 1998-99 Sheffield Shield season for New South Wales.

With an international return most likely out of the question for Paine, Taylor pondered whether or not he’ll return for Tasmania.

“I played the last couple of Shield games but I don’t remember making too many runs, because I’d lost that drive that you’ve got to have,” he explained.

“That’s the hard part for Tim. The only way you’d want to play Shield cricket, or any cricket, again, is if he really wants the enjoyment of playing the game again. But will he be afforded that? That’s the problem.

“He’s only got to take the field, and it won’t matter if it’s third grade, there’ll be someone there to remind him of what’s happened.”

Paine played for the Tasmanian second XI this week, impressing behind the stumps but missing out in both innings with the bat.

“I’m not sure he’s ever going to find enjoyment from the game, which is a huge shame,” Taylor said.

“That second XI game he’s just played, he would have been mulling it over the entire time, asking himself, ‘Is this worth it? Am I enjoying it?’

“It’s particularly tough when you’re batting, because as a batter you only make one mistake and you’re out. And if you’re not totally focused, you make more mistakes.”

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