Paine quits as Test captain amid off-field scandal

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A tearful Tim Paine resigned from the Australian Test captaincy today, just 19 days out from the beginning of the Ashes, after allegations emerged of improper conduct in 2017

Tim Paine has stood down as Test captain in a bombshell announcement that has thrown Australia’s Ashes defence into chaos less than three weeks out from the series opener.

Paine announced his resignation from the captaincy at a press conference in Hobart on Friday afternoon, following revelations of a ‘sexting’ incident involving a former Cricket Tasmania employee in 2017.

Unless there is a sudden change-of-heart from the Australian cricket hierarchy, vice-captain Pat Cummins looks set to become the first fast bowler to captain the Test side in 65 years.

Pending approval from the Cricket Australia Board, Cummins will become the 47th player to captain Australia’s men’s Test team.

“Today, I’m announced my decision to stand down as the captain of the Australian men’s test team. It’s an incredibly difficult decision, but the right one for me, my family, and cricket,” an emotional Paine said as he read from a prepared statement.

“As a background on my decision, nearly four years ago, I was involved in a text exchange with a then-colleague. At the time, the exchange was the subject of a thorough CA Integrity Unit investigation, throughout which I fully participated in and openly participated in.

“That investigation and a Cricket Tasmania HR investigation at the same time found that there had been no breach of the Cricket Australia Code of Conduct. Although exonerated, I deeply regretted this incident at the time, and still do today. I spoke to my wife and family at the time and am enormously grateful for their forgiveness and support. We thought this incident was behind us and that I could focus entirely on the team, as I have done for the last three or four years.

“However, I recently became aware that this private text exchange was going to become public. On reflection, my actions in 2017 do not meet the standard of an Australian cricket captain, or the wider community. I’m deeply sorry for the hurt and pain that I have caused to my wife, my family, and to the other party. I’m sorry for any damage that this does to the reputation of our sport.

“And I believe that it is the right decision for me to stand down as captain, effective immediately. I do not want this to become an unwelcome disruption to the team ahead of what is a huge Ashes Series.

“I have loved my role as captain of the Australian cricket team. It’s been the greatest privilege of my sporting life to lead the Australian men’s test team. I’m grateful for the support of my teammates and proud of what we’ve been able to achieve together.

“To them, I ask for their understanding and forgiveness. To Australian cricket fans I’m deeply sorry that my past behaviour has impacted our game on the eve of the Ashes. For the disappointment I have caused to fans and the entire cricket community, I apologise.

“I’ve been blessed with a wonderful, loving and supportive family, and it breaks my heart to know how much I’ve let them down. They have always stood by me, been my most loyal fans, and I’m indebted to them for their support.

“I will remain a committed member of the Australian cricket team and look forward with anticipation to what is a huge Ashes tour.”

Paine hasn’t played first-class cricket since April, and without the leadership string to his bow, quickly comes back to what is a crowded field of wicketkeeper-batters available for selection.

Australia A captain Alex Carey and WA gloveman Josh Inglis, who was in Australia’s World Cup winning T20I squad and was also picked in this week’s Australia A side, loom as the two most likely to push for a Baggy Green.

Vodafone Men’s Ashes v England

Tour Matches

Nov 23-25: England v England Lions, Brisbane

Nov 30 – Dec 3: England v England Lions, Brisbane

Dec 1-3: Australian intra-squad match, Brisbane

Dec 9-12: Australia A v England Lions, Brisbane

Tests

First Test: December 8-12, The Gabba

Second Test: December 16-20, Adelaide Oval

Third Test: December 26-30, MCG

Fourth Test: January 5-9, SCG

Fifth Test: January 14-18, Perth Stadium