Tim Paine steps down as Australia Test captain over sexting scandal

Tim Paine

Tim Paine has stepped down as captain of the Australia Test cricket team less than a month before the Ashes over a sexting exchange with a former colleague.

Paine, 36, had been expected to lead his side in the series against England which starts in Brisbane on December 8, but made the “incredibly difficult decision” to leave the role.

The wicketkeeper-batsman did not speak about the nature of the messages in his resignation speech, but Cricket Australia’s news website referred to it as “revelations of a sexting incident involving a former Cricket Tasmania employee in 2017”.

Tim Paine steps down

Cricket Australia said it accepted the resignation and would appoint a new captain, but added the Tasmanian would be available for selection for the forthcoming series. Paceman Pat Cummins is the current vice-captain and most likely choice to become the team’s new leader.

Speaking to reporters in Hobart, Paine said: “It’s an incredibly difficult decision but the right one for me, my family and cricket.

“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 (Cricket Australia) 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.”

Paine was unexpectedly elevated to become Australia’s 46th Test captain after Steve Smith’s ban following the infamous ball-tampering scandal in South Africa in 2018.

While the position was thrust upon him, the 36-year-old has drawn mostly praise for his execution of the demanding dual roles of captain and wicketkeeper, especially in Australia’s 2019 Ashes triumph in England.