Tim Paine has tearfully resigned as Australian Test captain due to the public relevation of a sexting scandal from 2017.
Paine has faced a brief media conference, where he read a statement, and said he would be available to play in the Ashes, just not as captain.
Paine – who has been Test skipper since taking over from Steve Smith after the 2018 ball-tampering scandal – reportedly sent lewd texts and an unsolicited photo of his genitals to a former female Cricket Tasmania employee.
Cricket Tasmania said Friday they heard of the alegations first when formal charges of theft were laid against the female employee in mid 2018.
A report in the Herald Sun said Paine engaged in the sexting on the eve and morning of the first Ashes Test in 2017.
Paine said the incident had been investigated by Cricket Australia and Cricket Tasmania at the time and both had found there had been no breach of the CA code of conduct.
Not only didn’t CA act on Paine at the time, he was made part of its review into player culture in May 2018. Also on that panel was now chief of selectors George Bailey.
“Although exonerated, I deeply regretted this incident at the time and still do today,” Paine said, choking back tears during his statement. He did not take questions.
“I spoke to my wife and family at the time and have been enormously grateful for their forgiveness and support.
“We thought this incident was behind us and I could focus entirely on the team as I’ve done for the last three or four years.
“I recently became aware that this private text exchange was going to become public.
“In 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 I’ve caused to my wife, my family and to the other party. I’m sorry for any damage this does to the reputation of our sport and I believe it is the right decision for me to step down as captain, effective immediately.”
Paine added he did not want the incident to become “an unwelcome distraction for the team ahead of what is a huge Ashes series.
“I’ve loved my role as captain of the Australian cricket team – it has been the greatest privilege of my sporting life to lead the Australian men’s Test team.
“I’m grateful of 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.
“I’ve been blessed with a wonderful supportive family and it breaks my heart to know how much I’ve let them down. They’ve always stood by me, been my most loyal fans and I’m indebted to them for their support.”
In tears, Paine concluded: “I will remain a committed member of the Australian cricket team and look forward with anticipation to what is a huge Ashes tour.”
The news comes two days after the Test squad was announced for the first two Ashes Tests. Pat Cummins is the current vice-captain, but there are certain to be calls for a return to leadership of Smith.
The Australian Cricketers Association questioned why Paine “felt the need to resign for a historical mistake that was a private matter”.
— Australian Cricketers' Association (@ACA_Players) November 19, 2021
Cricket Australia chairman Richard Freudenstein said: “Tim felt it was in the best interests of his family and Australian cricket to take this decision to step down as captain.
“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 (to resign),” Freudenstein added.
“CA does not condone this type of language or behaviour.
“Despite the mistake he made, Tim has been an exceptional leader since his appointment and the Board thanks him for his distinguished service.
“Tim will continue to be available for selection in the Test team through the Ashes summer.”
Cricket Tasmania Chairman, Andrew Gaggin, said there was no complaint 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.
“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.”
Gaggin said criminal charges against the former employee were still pending and it was inappropriate to comment further given the matter was still before the courts.
The text exchange – warning graphic content
The Herald Sun released details of the exchange between Paine and the Cricket Tasmania employee the paper chose not to name.
Here is how the paper reported them.
“Paine’s lewd messages were sent to the woman on November 22 and 23, 2017 – the eve and morning of his return to the Australian Test team after seven years out of the side,” the paper wrote.
“He and the woman had exchanged dozens of texts throughout that year.
“But the correspondence became increasingly flirtatious between the woman and Paine, who has been married since 2016.
“On November 22, 2017, after the woman joked about “partying like a rockstar”, Paine texted: “I like good girl (name removed). But this other one sounds interesting.”
“When I’m good I’m good. When I am bad I am brilliant,” she added, prompting Paine to ask: “Brilliantly bad??”
“The following morning, just hours before Paine was due to take the field against England, the woman texted: “I will think naughty thoughts about you whilst we watch the TV.”
“I’m cracking! Ha ha. Naughty thoughts like what? I’m about to give something firm a pull…,” Paine responded.
“Then Paine texted: “Will you want to taste my ***?? F*** me, I’m seriously hard.”
“In apparent reference to Paine’s wicket keeping duties later that day, the woman wrote in response: “I thought we were resting hands.”
“Paine responded: “Can’t rest them when I’m this hard!! Need to ease the tension … Finish me off with those lips then (name deleted)”.
“The text ended with a wink-face emoji.
“Paine then sent what is described in correspondence as an unsolicited “dick pic”, before asking the woman: “Finish me off right now!!!”
“The woman has claimed she was taken aback and found it offensive. It’s understood complaints were made to the Australian Human Rights Commission regarding alleged sexual harassment in relation to the exchange.”