Tim Paine has stepped down as captain of the Australia Test team less than three weeks before The Ashes over a sexting exchange with a former colleague.
The 36-year-old had been expected to lead his side in the series against England which starts in Brisbane on December 8, but made the “incredibly difficult decision” to leave the role.
The married father-of-two young children was investigated by Cricket Australia in 2018 after the woman complained about him.
Paine reportedly sent a photo of his penis to the female co-worker along with a stream of lewd text messages, many of which are too raunchy to publish.
‘Will you want to taste my d**?? F**k me, I’m seriously hard,’ one of the messages sent to the Cricket Tasmania employee read.
The lewd messages were sent on November 22 and 23, 2017, the eve and morning of the first Ashes Test at the Gabba in Brisbane.
Cricket Australia is believed to have found out about the sexting in June 2018 and launched an investigation, along with Cricket Tasmania.
The woman complained in 2018 about ‘Mr Paine’s sexually explicit, unwelcome and unsolicited photograph of his genitals in addition to the graphic sexual comments’.
She is said to have been taken aback by the comments and pornographic photo, which she found offensive.
Cricket Tasmania chairman Andrew Gaggin said the woman was earlier sacked by the organisation, but did not bring the messages up at the time.
Mr. Gaggin said the organization investigated the complaint as soon as it was received but ‘determined the interaction was consensual, private, occurred on the one occasion only, was between mature adults and was not repeated’.
‘Cricket Tasmania clearly does not condone this type of behaviour and addressed the matter directly with Tim Paine,’ he said.
‘However, because of the consensual nature of the actions, it was determined that no further action was required or appropriate.’
Paine, who has led the team since the Sandpapergate ball-tampering scandal in 2018, held a press conference on Friday where he tearfully apologised and announced he would step down.
‘It’s an incredibly difficult decision, but the right one for me, my family, and cricket,’ he said.
‘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,’ he said.
‘I have loved my role…’ he said, his voice cracking as he wiped away a tear, ‘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.’