MELBOURNE: Tim Paine stepped down as Australia test cricket captain on Friday for sending inappropriate text messages to a female co-worker when he was a Tasmanian state player.
The resignation comes even though an investigation by governing body Cricket Australia exonerated him of any breach of its code of conduct. The governing body has accepted the resignation, a decision Paine said he made as he was aware the investigation by the body’s integrity unit would be made public.
He explained that he had been cleared of any breaches during an inquiry into the events at the time but with his changed circumstances he had no choice but to step down once he learned the text messages would become public.
“Today I am announcing my decision to stand down as captain of the Australian Men’s Test team – an incredibly difficult decision, but the right one for me, my family and cricket,” he said, reading from a prepared statement.
“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 participated fully and openly.”
“Although exonerated, I deeply regretted this incident at the time, and still do today,” he told a news conference in the Tasmanian capital of Hobart. “I spoke to my wife and family at the time and am enormously grateful for their forgiveness and support.”
A Melbourne-based newspared said Paine’s messages sent to the co-worker in 2017 had included a lewd photo. “On reflection, my actions in 2017 do not meet the standard of an Australian cricket captain, or the wider community,” Paine said.
In a statement, Cricket Australia 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.
“While the board acknowledges an investigation cleared Tim of any breach of the code of conduct regarding this matter some years ago, we respect his decision. CA does not condone this type of language or behaviour. Tim will continue to be available for selection in the Test team through the Ashes summer.”
Earlier, announcing his decision, Paine said, “It’s an incredibly difficult decision, but the right one for me, my family, and cricket.” He added that the investigation and one by Cricket Tasmania HR at the same time had found no breach of the conduct. “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.”
Paine, who had only returned to Test cricket in the months before that tour was appointed captain for the last Test of the series and has led the side since. The development throws Australia’s Ashes preparation into chaos with the issue sure to create an enormous distraction ahead of the series. Pat Cummins is expected to be appointed to the role for the Ashes.