Saints Have Sinned Worse Than Tim Paine

It is to be hoped that the chairman of Cricket Australia has led a blameless public and private life. Or if, like most human beings, he belongs to what Kant called the ‘crooked timber of humanity’, that his possible human — all too human — lapses have not come to public attention. He might remember that some of the greatest saints have led lives of licentiousness and brutality which quite overshadow the lapses for which Tim Paine has paid so dearly. The Basque soldier Ignatius of Loyola and Augustine of Hippo (he of ‘God make me chaste but not yet’ fame) spring to mind from a crowded field of saints with busy early lives.

Has  Cricket Australia’s Mr Richard Freudenstein not heard of, much less practised, the Christian disciplines of confession, penance and absolution, the first two obligations of which, at least, Tim Paine has amply discharged?  He will have to rely on God for private absolution, one fears, unless he can find a charitable man of the cloth to grant him public absolution, to be reported in the newspapers, as a way of matching his present unwelcome publicity.

It is a sad day when sportsmen are required to lead blameless lives and sporting administrators set themselves up as moral arbiters. If Mr Freudenstein is correctly reported, he is a dab hand at casuistry, that form of reasoning that enemies accused the once-prominent Society of Jesus of handling so deftly. Perhaps he has been too busy reading many of the present Jesuit Pontiff’s public pronouncements on preoccupations Green and other secular issues. Both men should remember the old adage of cobblers sticking to their lasts.

Mr Freudenstein might, as penance for his comments, like to spend a few days reading the New Testament, paying particular attention to Christ’s comments about the Pharisees and the woman taken in adultery.

But then Christ, although the Second Person of the Trinity made Man, aspired to be neither  cricketer nor  sporting administrator.

Paul de Serville is a Melbourne writer and historian

22 thoughts on “Saints Have Sinned Worse Than Tim Paine

  • nfw says:

    In ths day and age who cares? I’m more concerned about who ratted on him and the baying mob. I’m sure Jesus would have turned the other cheek and reminded the dobbers and hypocrites about casting the first stone with regard to personal sin. I doubt Mr Freudenstein is a pure as the driven snow.

  • IainC says:

    I can just see future interviews for Australian Cricket Captain.
    “Are you on social media?”
    “Are, or have you ever been, in a sexting exchange?”
    “Are there any private posts from your past, from any age, on any subject, that even a single person on social media could deem offensive when leaked?”
    “Has anyone currently or previously found to be subject to censure or criticism on any social medium platform ever ticked “like” to one of your posts?”
    “Is there anything in your past ever that could be blown out of all proportion by a rampaging online mob hungry for vengeance based on one fact and zero context?”
    “Do you accept that, at the hint of a whiff of a rumour of a scandal, as defined by social media, we will not offer you one second of support, and dump you immediately before any evidence is heard?”
    “Oh, by the way, and this is optional, can you play cricket at all?”

  • lbloveday says:

    People are comparing Paine’s (effective) sacking with Smith’s. My comment to The Australian was (almost of course) rejected:
    Not by even one person I have discussed it with thinks that has Smith “has done his punishment and all is forgiven”.
    Millions of people legally bet many $millions on the scores of results bookmakers offer odds about in that Test, and had the right to have their bets fairly determined.
    By his cheating he illegally tried to affect the results, and is, no matter how it is spun, guilty of attempted match-fixing despite not receiving direct payments for his efforts.
    Cronje got life for that, and the Delhi Police registered a First Information Report for match-fixing in 2000.

  • BalancedObservation says:


    Good comment. I think you do reflect the views of most Australians.

    But I’m more intrigued that you’re still trying to post a comment at The Australian.
    I gave up on that ages ago. Why pay them money with a subscription when they censor fair comment?

  • BalancedObservation says:

    The best article yet on this issue which has been handled so hypocritically. Very similar thoughts occurred to me when I first heard about Tim Paine’s departure – though not with your religious overtones.

    I think it would be reasonable to ask all those making these important decisions – which have long lasting effects on the game – to be measured by the standards which they’ve applied to a cricketer. That would seem fair.

    To show their good faith these men should be asked to sign statutory declarations that they’ve never had an affair or flirted with any other person while married and/or in a senior position.

    As for absolution… You’ve got to ask the question : would Tim Paine be more likely to get it if a major commercial sponsor was prepared to withdraw their cash over the decision? How would the hypocritical so called moral standard stack up against that sort of threat?

  • Blair says:

    Tim Paine wasn’t sacked as Captain; he resigned and has now withdrawn from all cricket.

  • lbloveday says:

    My comment is the only use of a derivative of “sack”, so I presume you are referring to that.
    I purposefully qualified it and wrote “(effective) sacking”; do you doubt that had he not resigned he’d have been sacked?

  • Blair says:

    “do you doubt that had he not resigned he’d have been sacked?”
    I don’t know whether he would have been sacked ; but then I also don’t know why he has withdrawn from all cricket.

  • Doubting Thomas says:

    While we’re at it, here is my comment to the Australian, also rejected, of course:
    “This is yet another example of Cricket Australia’s incredibly inept management. They have no business getting involved in the private communications of consenting adults. Let’s go back a generation or two to put this matter in perspective. Back in the good old days before cell phones, faxes and other modern technologies, people spoke to each other by landline telephone or wrote letters. What they said over the phone or wrote in their letters was strictly between them, and there were few if any limits imposed. If they wanted to send each other “indecent” photographs, so what? Who knew? Who cared? If one or the other correspondent wilfully or carelessly disclosed that material to third parties, it would be a breach of trust that might never be forgiven, but only a guttersnipe would take it to the media, and only the lowest rag would publish that material. But fast forward to the 21st Century, and the most hypocritically judgemental era since the Victorian age, and suddenly we find that the neo-Puritans in sports management and journalism can no longer cope with the identical material being transmitted not by post but by modern telephone technology.

    Whatever our own personal opinions about this sort of behaviour, the indisputable fact remains that short of a formal complaint by an unwilling recipient of Paine’s “sexting”, the matter is nobody else’s business, least of all Cricket Australia’s.”

  • Stephen says:

    I feel utterly ashamed! The Australian has never rejected any of my comments. I must try harder. At least the Australian does allow comments. The ABC Online does not allow comments. I have emailed them suggesting it but didn’t even receive the courtesy of a reply. Maybe they think that comments might disrupt the safe space of their snow flake staff.

  • norsaint says:

    Cricket Australia are a joke woke bureaucracy and at times manage to make the craven AFL look good by comparison. It has completely destroyed the cricket season with its hopeless scheduling, rendering the great game irrelevant to cricket lovers. The Paine episode is just the latest instalment and as for Smith and Warner, what on earth are they doing in the side, let alone being considered for “leadership” positions?

  • pgang says:

    I disagree with the reason for Paine’s end (what young, pro sports person isn’t awash in temptation?), but he never should have been captain for Australia and he wasn’t suitable for it. It was time for a change anyway. The job came to him by default thanks to similar wokeness which ended the worthy Smith’s captaincy.
    As for those puritans who are still, all these years later, ranting from their pedestals about Smith’s moral disgrace for a supremely minor infraction of the rules, for crying out loud, get over it. I always suspect that these are people who have never had much to do with sport. Testing the rules is part of it, period. Cricket is a strategic game, and any winning advantage is exploited by a good captain with the right killer instinct. Paine never had this. Smith did, as have all successful international captains (ball tampering is a common story in cricket). Breaking sport code rules is not a moral issue. Aussie Rules players are always deliberately breaking the rules to gain an advantage. Where is the moral outrage over that? It is all about winning for winning teams.

  • Blair says:

    “As for those puritans who are still, all these years later, ranting from their pedestals about Smith’s moral disgrace for a supremely minor infraction of the rules, for crying out loud, get over it. I always suspect that these are people who have never had much to do with sport.”
    “Former Australia captain Ian Chappell has criticised Cricket Australia for appointing Steve Smith as vice-captain of the Test team, three and a half years after his involvement in the Newlands ball-tampering scandal.
    Chappell, who captained his country in 30 Tests from 1971-75, condemned the appointment of the man who was skipper when Cameron Bancroft used sandpaper to attempt to alter the condition of the ball against South Africa in 2018.
    “I wish that Cricket Australia had made a clean break, but for Cricket Australia to get anything right at the moment is asking a bit much,” Chappell said while speaking to 2GB’s Wide World of Sports. “Cheating is cheating, whether it’s big cheating or little cheating, it’s still cheating in my book.””

  • Peter Marriott says:

    In my view the only one who one can say “Saints have sinned worse than….”is Steve Smith, who did nothing wrong himself, he just didn’t impose his authority at the time over those who had, but this is not a childish, rather grubby act, more a failure of isolated leadership in a young man who is older and wiser now. The same cannot be said I think, of Tim Paine’s act, assuming,of course, that what I have seen communicated by the media are all the facts of the matter..

  • Rebekah Meredith says:

    My opinion–which is worth neither more nor less than anyone else’s with a similar understanding of the situation and the game–is that Smith, Warner, and Bancroft all cheated, either directly or by failing to stop what was done. The surrounding circumstances (including the persecution of any team that stops winning) were not properly remembered by most people, but the actions of the trio themselves were inexcusable. They were then treated as though their offense was something previously unheard of in the annals of cricket, rather than something that South Africa had been guilty of the last time they had toured Australia (with a lolly, not sandpaper, but as a second ball-tampering offense for Faf du Plessis). They received far harsher penalties than the rules laid out, or than, to my understanding, anyone else had ever received for the same offence. They have now served their time.
    And for Ian Chappell, of all people, to take the moral high ground! He may–may–never have broken the rules, but he smashed the spirit of cricket to pieces. As Richie Benaud said of the underarm ball at the time, “The worst thing I’ve ever seen on a cricket field. Good night.”

  • 27hugo27 says:

    Glad someone mentioned the AFL, who to this recent subscriber is further down the woke Road than other sporting bodies. Mclachlan is dictator Dan’s philosophical doppelganger. Witness the sacking of two male administrators a few years ago for inter office affairs, ruining their reputations, while the consenting females were designated victims with no penalties to pay. Now planning to plant spies in the crowd to evict anyone deemed “ist” or phobic. Not to mention the intervention in Toby Green’s suspension and the ever growing “Theme” rounds designed to shame fans amd lecture all st once. I pray Mclachlan has someone skeletons in his closet. Football and cricket are {tennis too} virtually dead to me.

  • Lonsdale says:

    Excuse me, but has anyone noticed that the author of this article is one of Australia’s most accomplished contemporary historians.

  • lbloveday says:

    Rebekah Meredith,
    What in heaven’s name did Ian Chappell have to do with “the underarm ball”?

  • Rebekah Meredith says:

    Correction accepted. I thought that Ian Chappell was the captain who ordered his brother Trevor to bowl the ball, but the captain at the time was Greg.

  • lbloveday says:

    ChappellI on the wonderful Doug Waters

  • lbloveday says:

    Waters is a typo.

  • christopher.coney says:

    I agree with the proposition in the title.
    But one locution that populated the defence of Mr Paine and the lady was that they are both ‘mature adults’.
    Actually, they are both over the age of 18, making them adults by virtue of their years, but I am not quite so certain about mature. I completely agree that we all seem to be bent branches and broken twigs, but any person, of whatever age, who photographs his ‘junk’ (as the Yanks nicely call it) is doing something obviously immature, let alone sending it.
    Let’s hope this image does not secure a place in the ancient chestnut cabinets of the Australian Cricket Museum.

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