Melbourne: Tim Paine has quit as Test captain ahead of Men’s Ashes over the allegations he sent explicit messages to a woman co-worker four years ago.
The allegations were levelled in 2017, but a joint Cricket Australia and Cricket Tasmania investigation gave Paine a clean chit, which paved the wave for his return to Team Australia after a seven-year absence.
“Today, I am announcing my decision to stand down as the captain of the Australian men’s test team. It is an incredibly difficult decision, but the right one for me, my family, and cricket,” Paine said in a statement.
Cricket Australia accepted Paine’s resignation and said that the process of identifying and appointing a new Test captain will be accelerated. However, it said Paine will be available for selection in the Test team through the Ashes summer.
CA said it respects Paine’s decision, while it acknowledges an investigation clearing Paine of any breach of the code of conduct regarding this matter.
However, CA said it does not condone this type of language or behaviour and despite the mistake he made, Paine has been an exceptional leader since his appointment and the Board thanked him for his distinguished service. “Tim will continue to be available for selection in the Test team through the Ashes summer,” the board added.
Paine was made the captain in March 2018 after the fallout from the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa. Pat Cummins is said to assume the charge as the captain in Paine’s absence. At present, he is the vice-captain of the side. Alex Carey would be the front-runner to wicket keep.
In its statement, Cricket Tasmania said the allegations came to light after theft charges were levelled against the employee in mid-2018, but no complaint was lodged in November 2017.
In an investigation, it was found out that the interaction was consensual, private, and was done only once, Cricket Tasmania chairman Andrew Gaggin said.
“Cricket Tasmania clearly does not condone this type of behaviour and addressed the matter directly with Tim Paine. However, because of the consensual nature of the actions, it was determined that no further action was required or appropriate,” it added.
However, Paine felt it was in the best interests of his family and Australian cricket to take this decision to step down as captain, CA Chairman Richard Freudenstein said.
Reading out the entire statement to the press, Paine said, “As 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 am deeply sorry for the hurt and pain that I have caused to my wife, my family, and to the other party. I am sorry for any damage that this does to the reputation of our sport.
Paine felt resignation was the only option left with him and apologised to teammates and supporters. “I believe that it is the right decision for me to stand down as captain, effective immediately,” he said. I do not want this to become an unwelcome disruption to the team ahead of what is a huge Ashes series.”
“It’s been the greatest privilege of my sporting life to lead the Australian men’s test team. I am grateful for the support of my teammates and proud of what we have been able to achieve together.
“To them, I ask for their understanding and forgiveness. To Australian cricket fans, I am 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 have been blessed with a wonderful, loving and supportive family, and it breaks my heart to know how much I have 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.”