Australia skipper Paine steps down amid scandal


Distraught and in tears, Tim Paine stepped down as captain of Australia's test cricket team on Friday after revelations he had been investigated and cleared over explicit text messages sent to a female colleague four years ago.

The scandal plunged Australia's Ashes preparations into disarray three weeks before the first Test begins in Brisbane and placed the 36-year-old wicketkeeper's international career in jeopardy.

Breaking down while reading from a statement, Paine admitted he had been investigated by the sport's national integrity unit over messages he sent to a former Cricket Tasmania staffer in 2017, a few months before he took over the captaincy.

Though cleared of wrongdoing, the husband and father-of-three said, on reflection, his actions had not met the standards 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," Paine told reporters in Hobart.

"I'm sorry for any 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."

The tenures of Australia's last two captains have now been book-ended by scandal, with Paine replacing Steve Smith in the wake of the Newlands ball-tampering affair in 2018.

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