For more than a century, Australia's cricket captains have been formally appointed by the directors who have sat on the Cricket Australia board over that time. Not too often, though, has the national captain been asked whether or not he is willing to give his full support to the board, as Tim Paine was on Tuesday.
Such are the extraordinary times that cricket has been thrown into over the past few months, as the game's finances and leadership have been openly debated by the state associations and the Australian Cricket Association in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, leading eventually to the replacement of Kevin Roberts as chief executive with Nick Hockley, until last week the CEO of the T20 World Cup.
How the current group of administrators, from the CA chairman Earl Eddings downwards, would wish for the respect commanded by Paine after two years as national team captain in the wake of the Newlands scandal. As it was, Paine offered supportive words for Eddings and his board, citing the difficulty of managing the financial shocks of Covid-19, while also stating that Roberts had done plenty to support the Test team over the preceding 18 months.
"At the moment I do, yep," Paine said when asked directly whether he supported the board. "There's always negotiation, it's going to go on and the ACA and CA will work through it. What I do know is both parties have got the interests of cricket at heart, and they're both doing their best to come together and meet somewhere in the middle.
"What I understand is it's a difficult role and sport and business in general at the moment is very difficult when there's these Covid-19 restrictions, there's financial worries, there's TV rights, there's so many different things that go into it. What I will say is I certainly am happy I'm not in a position where I'm governing any sport at the moment in Australia.
"It's certainly a very difficult time to be in those roles and I think the disappointing thing at times is people continually going after these people. These are just people trying to do their best. I think sometimes we need to remember that, things get a bit personal and we like to attack people and go after them."
Paine and Roberts spoke often during the CEO's tenure, and conversed again last week after it was brought to a swift conclusion by the mounting toll of fractured relationships in the game and the board's growing discomfort with same. Paine admitted that while the Test side had been very well supported by Roberts during his time in the role, it was another matter to maintain constructive lines of communication with the states and the ACA as all sought to protect their own turf at a time of uncertainty.
"There's no doubt there's a different aspect to it absolutely," Paine said. "But at times it's been reported that the ACA and CA and the players are fighting, and I don't think that's always the case. When things like this happen, there's a negotiation and it doesn't mean that it's all bad blood and the players hate CA and CA hate the players and the ACA don't like this and that. I think at the moment, everyone is working together as I said to make the best possible deal and as it always happens it will get done at some stage.
"I've got to know Kevin really well. He's been great support to me in my time as captain. From a personal point of view, I'm certainly sad to see him go. I've spoken to him and let him know that. It was a very difficult time to be administering any sport as we've seen a lot of guys have lost jobs from the CEOs to people being laid off. I think for Kevin in particular, one of the reasons I did want to ring him was because it was reported a few times that he had a poor relationship with the players. And he certainly didn't. Kevin was well-liked and well-respected among our playing group. I think it was important to let him know that. I was disappointed with some of the reporting of that in the media."
For the players' part, Paine said he had told his fellow CA contract holders that he had been proud of the way they had navigated the Covid-19 period without being caught transgressing in terms of health regulations laid out by government authorities - albeit in the easier situation of not playing, rather than returning to competition as has happened in the NRL and AFL.
"There's been some indiscretions, if you like, from some athletes in other sporting codes and we've spoken a lot about the way we want to behave as an Australian cricket team, and I think our behaviour as a group of contracted cricketers in the last three or fourth months has been outstanding," he said.
"It's a really sad situation not just in cricket but around the world at the moment where a lot of people are losing jobs and it's not a place that any of us want to be in. I think times like these, Australians in particular are very good at pulling together and helping. CA and the players and the staff and the ACA are certainly going to have to do that and so are just regular people who are on the streets. It's a difficult situation for everyone and the best thing we can do is pull together and help each other as much as we can."