Tim Paine steps down as Australian Test captain ahead of Ashes series amid sexting scandal

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Tim Paine has stepped down as Australian men’s Test captain after revealing he was involved in a sexting scandal.

Paine said he was involved in a text exchange with a female former employee of Cricket Tasmania (CT) in late 2017.

An emotional Paine addressed the media in Hobart on Friday afternoon to make the announcement, reading a brief statement but refusing to take questions.

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He said the text exchange had been previously investigated by Cricket Australia (CA) and he had been “exonerated’.

The 36-year-old was made aware recently the text exchange would become public and chose to step down, but he will remain a member of Australia’s men’s Test squad.

“It’s an incredibly difficult decision, but the right one for me, my family, and cricket,” Paine said.

“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.

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“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.

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An emotional Paine fronted the media in Hobart on Friday afternoon. (ABC News: Luke Bowden)

“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.”

‘Deeply sorry for hurt and pain’

Paine — who assumed the Test captaincy in 2018 in the wake of the sandpaper scandal in South Africa — said he understood he had let down his family and the Australian cricket community.

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“On reflection, my actions in 2017 do not meet the standard of an Australian cricket captain, or the wider community,” he said.

“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.”

The Ashes begin on December 8 with the first Test at Brisbane’s Gabba.

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Wearing a green blazer, whites and a pink baggy cap, Tim Paine walks through up the SCG race past members seats
Paine took over the Test captaincy following the sandpaper scandal in South Africa in 2018.(AAP: Dan Himbrechts)

Paine said it would hurt him to no longer be the skipper.

“It’s been the greatest privilege of my sporting life to lead the Australian men’s Test team,” he said.

“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.

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“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.”

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Background to allegations

Cricket Tasmania said the allegations raised against Paine by a former employee of the organisation were only brought to its attention when formal charges of theft were laid against that employee in mid-2018.

Chair Andrew Gaggin said no complaint was raised at the time of the incident in November 2017, nor when the employee’s position with the organisation was terminated.

“As soon as Cricket Tasmania was made aware, it undertook an investigation that determined the interaction was consensual, private, occurred on the one occasion only, was between mature adults and was not repeated,” he said in a statement.

“Cricket Tasmania clearly does not condone this type of behaviour and addressed the matter directly with Tim Paine.

Mr Gaggin said criminal charges against the former employee were still pending and the matter was still before the courts.

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Cricket Australia reacts

CA released a statement on Friday afternoon saying it accepted Paine’s resignation and would “now accelerate the process of identifying and appointing a new Test captain”.

“Tim felt it was in the best interests of his family and Australian cricket to take this decision to step down as captain,” CA chair Richard Freudenstein said.

“The Board has accepted Tim’s resignation and will now work through a process with the National Selection Panel of identifying and appointing a new captain.

“CA does not condone this type of language or behaviour.

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“Despite the mistake he made, Tim has been an exceptional leader since his appointment and the Board thanks him for his distinguished service.”

CA confirmed Paine would be available for selection in the men’s Test squad for the Ashes series.

Tim Paine walks with his helmet under his arm and wicketkeeping gloves in his hand
Cricket Australia said it accepted Paine’s decision to step down.(Action Images via Reuters: Lee Smith)

Australian women’s captain Meg Lanning said the incident was a reminder to players of their responsibility to the game.

“Obviously it’s not ideal for Tim personally or for Australian cricket,” she told ABC Sport.

“So I guess it’s a just a good reminder in some ways of the standards and behaviour … expected of Australian cricketers, and I guess when that doesn’t happen it can change pretty quickly.”

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Lanning said it would be up to CA and the national selectors to decide whether Paine remained a member of the Australian squad on a long-term basis.

“I guess that would come down to the team itself and the way they are looking at it,” she said.

“They will obviously know a lot more details than what we would, so I guess it comes down to the team’s call and what the best thing is for them and Australian cricket as well.”

Paine has played 35 Tests for Australia after making his debut against Pakistan at Lord’s in 2010.

After appearing in four Tests that year, he did not return to Australia’s Test squad until the 2017/18 Ashes when he helped the hosts to a 4-0 series victory.

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He was appointed captain during Australia’s tour of South Africa in early 2018 when Steve Smith was forced to stand down from the position for his role in the infamous ball-tampering incident.

Paine has skippered Australia in the Test arena since, with the retaining of the Ashes in England in 2019 among the highlights of his captaincy.



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