Spinner Nathan Lyon has called for Tim Paine to retain his spot in Australia’s side for the Ashes despite resigning as captain over inappropriate behaviour.
The 36-year-old married father-of-two stepped down in tears just weeks before the first Test against England after it was revealed he sent explicit messages to a female Cricket Tasmania colleague back in 2017.
Lyon, who has formed a strong partnership with the wicketkeeper appointed to lead his country following the ‘sandpapergate’ cheating scandal in 2018, told reporters on Thursday that Paine should still be selected behind the stumps.
Nathan Lyon (right) insists Tim Paine (left) must keep his spot in Australia’s side for the Ashes
Paine has issued a public and emotional apology to his wife Bonnie after his sexting scandal
‘The selectors said they were going to pick the best available XI. In my eyes, Tim Paine is the best keeper in the world,’ Lyon said.
‘This is very selfish: From a bowler’s point of view I want the best gloveman behind the stumps.
‘Every bowler’s relationship with the keeper is exceptional.’
The New South Wales spinner said Paine was a ‘very lovable guy and very well respected’, indicating the former captain has the team’s backing to take on England when the series begins in Brisbane.
Lyon said: ‘I’m pretty sure I’m speaking on behalf of every bowler that we want the best keeper.
Spinner Lyon (pictured) described Paine as the ‘best wicketkeeper in the world’ and believes he should play in the Ashes despite resigning as captain following his sexting scandal
Paine, 36, sent a photo of his penis to a female co-worker along with a stream of lewd text messages
‘He’s got my full support and I 100 per cent guarantee he’s got the full support of the Australian change room,’ the 34-year-old added.
Lyon’s fellow Australia team-mate Marcus Harris has also backed Paine following the scandal, echoing Lyon’s point that he should make the Australia team for the opening Test at Brisbane on December 8 on the strength of his wicketkeeping abilities alone.
‘Yes, absolutely. He’s done a really good job in the last few years under tough circumstances, and I think you can still probably argue that he’s the best gloveman in the country,’ Harris said.
‘I know he’s got the support of all the players. Obviously Painey is a very popular member of the group, and he was as skipper as well.
‘So we’re looking forward to him getting up here in the next week or so and getting on with cricket.’
Harris added that most of the Australia team have contacted Paine in the wake of the scandal, having only been informed half an hour before it broke last week.
However, it will fall to the selectors to decide whether Paine maintains his place in Australia’s Ashes squad or whether he is cut loose.
A five-person panel will make the decision but it reportedly won’t include coach Justin Langer, who will concentrate on preparing the side.
Instead the job will fall to selectors George Bailey and Tony Dodemaide, Cricket Australia board member Mel Jones, chief executive Nick Hockley and chairman Richard Freudenstein.
Alex Carey is expected to take the gloves if Paine is dropped.
Opener Marcus Harris has backed Paine to be selected for the upcoming Ashes series
Harris wouldn’t be drawn on who should be the next captain, with Pat Cummins and Steve Smith – who himself was also forced to resign in disgrace due to his involvement in sandpapergate – among the frontrunners.
Another factor working against Paine is a shortage of match practice since he underwent neck surgery in September. His last competitive match prior to that was in April, when he played for Tasmania against Western Australia in the Sheffield Shield.
He made his return for Tasmania’s second XI on Monday, grabbing six catches, but was then out for a second ball duck.
His text exchange with the Cricket Tasmania staffer from 2017 included an unsolicited picture of his genitals and ‘graphic sexual comments’ that caused her to complain seven months later.
Paine was investigated and cleared of wrongdoing by Cricket Australia in 2018, when he confessed to his wife Bonnie that he sexted the woman over the course of 18 hours.
Married father-of-two Paine, 36, sent lewd messages to a Tasmania Cricket staffer back in 2017
But the matter was kept secret for three years until the messages were made public on Friday afternoon and Paine tearfully resigned as Australian captain just weeks before the Ashes.
Meanwhile, play was abandoned on the third day of England’s warm-up against England Lions due to rain at Wellington Point, with Haseeb Hameed (53) and Rory Burns (39) both unbeaten at the crease.
England will take on Australia in the first Test at the Gabba from December 8 and the fifth and final Test is scheduled for Perth’s Optus Stadium on January 14.
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