Tim Paine’s resignation from the Australian captaincy has monopolized cricket news over the past week. More than resigning from this coveted position, it is the reason for this decision that has attracted more attention. It emerged that in 2017, Paine sent messages of an explicit nature to a colleague. This matter was investigated by authorities at Cricket Australia (CA) and Cricket Tasmania at the time and they discovered that there was nothing in these messages that implied a violation of the Code of conduct that players insist on by these bodies. However, a few days ago, those messages resumed circulating on social media, prompting Paine to step down as captain, a decision that was quickly accepted by CA.
The Australian captain’s sudden decision to step down and the reason behind it surprised fans of the game. Many questions arose in their minds after reading this incident. Why would a messaging incident done in 2017, which was investigated and closed, forced the resignation of the national team captain? What should be the standards governing the conduct of national sports figures in their public and private life?
It should be noted that CA has always demonstrated zero tolerance for sexually inappropriate behavior by national team captains. And their tough, no-nonsense approach in this regard was clearly evident in the way they dealt with the weaknesses of Shane Warne, who apart from being one of the greatest bowlers of all time, also possessed a brilliant brain. cricket. Warne was appointed Steve Waugh’s assistant in 1998 and many saw him as Australia’s future skipper. However, when controversy erupted over Warne engaging in dirty talk with a British nurse, he was removed from his post as vice-captain and Ricky Ponting was appointed in his place.
There was no doubt that Warne would have become an outstanding captain had he had the chance, as evidenced by his skills in the inaugural year of the Indian Premier League (IPL) when he led an inexperienced side of the Rajasthan Royals to triumph. This fact would have been known to the Australian cricketer authorities as well, but they had a firm belief that they would not let a corrupt cricketer take over as captain. While selection to the national team was based purely on merit where only the performance of the player mattered, when it came to choosing the captain, it was clear that the team manager should neither cause any harm. embarrassed by his actions or be seen as setting a bad example for young people in the making. Warne failed on both counts and was never considered a leader of the national team after that. Now Paine is also following in his footsteps, although it could be argued that compared to Warne’s “sins”, the outgoing Test Captain’s actions would constitute rather minor indiscretions!
The only other international cricket captain to lose his job due to sexcapades is Mike Gatting, former England skipper. Gatting was a popular and successful captain who rallied the English side in a combat unit with his bulldog-type tenacity after the laid-back manners of David Gower. He led England to the 1987 World Cup final which took place in the Indian subcontinent and stood up to Shakoor Rana, the Pakistan referee, in a nasty exchange of words, which led out of play for a considerable period until the England skipper finally apologized. When the West Indies toured England in 1988, tabloids “Sun” and “Today” ran reports that Gatting entertained a bartender in her hotel room during the first test in Nottingham. Gatting and the bartender in question denied the allegations, but the skipper lost his job even though authorities accepted his position that they were not having sex. The reason given by Peter May, then head of the selection committee for sacking Gatting, was that it was inappropriate for the captain to have invited the lady to her room!
It should also be mentioned that not all countries have imposed the same standards on the implementation of a strict moral code of conduct. When West Indies led by Gary Sobers toured India in 1966-67, new reports revealed that the skipper was engaged to an Indian actress named Anju Mahendru. It didn’t turn into anything more important as the two went their separate ways after the series ended. Almost two decades later, Viv Richards, then the world’s best drummer, developed a close and intimate relationship with Neena Gupta, one of Bollywood’s leading actresses at the time. The West Indies Cricket Board did not act against any of these legendary players and did not ask them for any explanation. It probably has something to do with the more liberal approach of the countries that are part of the Caribbean Islands towards casual sex and the friendships that cricketers develop with people of the opposite sex.
Indian society has traditionally expressed distaste for extramarital affairs and one night stands, which is reflected in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) approach to this aspect. Rumor has it that Ravi Shastri, who recently quit his coaching job, has not been named captain of the national team, despite being prepped for the job, due to his bohemian lifestyle. The only captain who escaped despite a high-profile relationship outside of his marriage was Mohammad Azharuddin. Although he was still married to his first wife when he developed a close relationship with Sangeeta Bijlani, a former model whom he later married, Azharuddin managed to retain his position as captain even after news of the matter became public. But he lost his reputation with the media and also considerable popular support, because of this affair.
BCCI also possesses the dubious distinction of taking action against a legendary cricketer for an act of indiscretion on the part of his roommate. During the third Test of the series against England in 1961-62 in Delhi, an Indian player asked the receptionist of the hotel, where the team was staying, for a coffee. The lady was indignant at this request and informed the officials of the BCCI who were also staying in the same hotel. The BCCI took swift action; they not only suspended the affected player from the team for the next test, but also his roommate who happened to be Subhash Gupte, then the best leg thrower in the world! Gupte was outraged, and rightly so, as he hadn’t done anything wrong other than being in the same room when the player called the receptionist. But the BCCI insisted that Gupte also be punished and did not choose him for the tour of the West Indies that followed. Feeling humiliated, Gupte ended his life and announced his retirement from Test Cricket. He traveled to the Trinidad Islands where he spent the rest of his life until he took to the skies in 2002. Thus, the career of this all-time great player ended in an inglorious way, thanks as Indian cricket approached at the time.
The Tim Paine episode should open the eyes of not only current cricketers but aspiring cricketers as well, as acts of indiscretion committed even early in life can come back to chase one later. In the age of social media, where gamers are bestowed with celebrity status, they need to be on guard to ensure they don’t do anything that brings them or the game a bad name. The same riding that crowns them like heroes will not waste time bringing them back to earth. Therefore, there is a need to exercise the utmost discretion and care in the management of personal life and related matters.
It is hoped that the lessons of the Tim Paine incident will not be lost on players in India, as the public here has also started to demand high standards of probity and conduct from them. Celebrities would do well to remember that with this status comes the responsibility of being a role model for the younger generation, something that Hardik Pandya continues to forget, as reports of his attempt to evade payment indicate. customs duties. One of Rahul Dravid’s tasks in his new role as national team coach will be to ensure that all team members meet the public’s expectations not only in their performance on the pitch but also in their driving outside. .
(The author is a former international cricket referee and a senior official)