Australian Test captain Paine quits over sexting scandal

Australian skipper sent lewd messages and unsolicited images to female staff member

By: News Desk      Published: 09:36 AM, 19 Nov, 2021
Australian Test captain Paine quits over sexting scandal
File photo.

Tim Paine announced his shock resignation as Australian Test cricket captain on Friday over what he described as an inappropriate "private text exchange" with a then-colleague.

"I'm sorry for any damage that this does to the reputation of our sport," said a tearful Paine, as he announced he was stepping down from a role that he described as "the greatest privilege" of his life.

Cricket Australia on Friday informed about Paine's decision to leave captaincy "immediately". "Tim Paine has advised the Board of Cricket Australia of his decision to stand down as captain of the Australian men's Test team, effective immediately," Cricket Australia (CA) said in a statement.

Cricket Australia said the Board has accepted Paine's resignation and will 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 in a statement.

"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," the statement concluded.

In an emotional press conference, Paine apologised for his actions but claimed he was ‘exonerated’ by a Cricket Australia and Cricket Tasmania investigation at the time.

He also confirmed he will continue to play for the team.

FULL STATEMENT

“Today I am announcing my decision to stand down as captain of the Australian men’s cricket team. It’s a 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 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.

“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’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 the 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. I have loved my role as captain of the Australian cricket team. It’s been the greatest privilege of my sporting life to lead the Australian men’s test team.

“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 – 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’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.

“I will remain a committed member of the Australian cricket team, and look forward with anticipation to what is a huge Ashes tour. Thank you.”

Notably, Paine took over as captain from Steve Smith after the star batsman was banned for two years from leadership roles for his involvement in the ball-tampering scandal that brought disrepute to Australia in South Africa.

The 36-year-old was set to lead Australia in their upcoming Ashes series against England, but has resigned from the role after the revelations on Friday afternoon. Pat Cummins has served as vice-captain for the past two years, and will be the front-runner for the role. 

As first reported by The Herald Sun, Paine allegedly sent lewd messages and unsolicited images to a female staff member at Cricket Tasmania back in November 2017, prior to the first Test in Brisbane. 

The woman reportedly sent letters of complaint to Cricket Australia and Cricket Tasmania regarding the messages from Paine, prior to her resignation from the role in late-2017, and the matter is being investigated by CA. 

Cricket Tasmania chairman Andrew Gaggin revealed that no complaint was made at the time and that it was resolved internally, and that the former staff member was under investigation for criminal theft charges, which were still pending and before the courts. 

“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.

“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.”