Australia’s Test cricket captain Tim Paine has stepped down from his role on the eve of the Ashes series after a historic investigation into text messages sent to a colleague surfaced.
Paine made the decision to resign – just weeks out from the start of the series against England – after it became clear to him that details of the incident in 2017, which predated his appointment as Test captain, were about to be made public.
The integrity unit investigation four years ago cleared Paine of any breach of CA’s code of conduct, but he said he “deeply regretted” his actions at the time and still to this day.
CA accepted Paine’s decision to stand down, effective immediately, and the national selection panel will now have to begin the process of identifying and appointing a new captain to lead the side ahead of the first Test in Brisbane on 8 December.
Pat Cummins, the vice-captain, had been tipped to take over from the 36-year-old once he retired.
Paine said it was a difficult decision to make, but “the right one for me, my family, and cricket”.
“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,” he said. “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.”
Paine had been in the role – termed by some as Australia’s second highest-profile job after the nation’s prime minister – since March 2018.
He took the job from Steve Smith in the wake of the Cape Town ball tampering scandal and was seen as a steady pair of hands to guide Australian cricket in the aftermath of one of its most turbulent periods.
In 2019, he became the first Australian men’s captain to retain the Ashes in England since Steve Waugh in 2001, but pressure mounted on his captaincy after losing last year’s home series to India.
During that series he apologised to teammates for letting them down in the Sydney Test after his sledging crossed a line.
CA acknowledged that Paine had been cleared of any breach of the code of conduct regarding this matter some years ago but CA chair Richard Freudenstein said the board “does not condone this type of language or behaviour”.
Cricket Tasmania said in a statement it too does not condone his behaviour, but “because of the consensual nature of the actions it was determined that no further action was required or appropriate”.
The interaction was, according to CT “consensual, private, occurred on the one occasion only, was between mature adults and not repeated”.
Despite standing down, the wicketkeeper-batsman will still make himself available for selection over the summer.
He is facing a race to be fit in time for the first ball at the Gabba in just under three weeks after undergoing invasive neck surgery to fix a bulging disc.
Source: The Guardian