Sports

Tim Paine stands down from cricket after sexting scandal, fears for wife Bonnie: Ashes squad, replacement wicketkeeper


Those close to Tim Paine are “extremely concerned” for him and his wife after a sexting scandal saw the Aussie step away from cricket today.

Tim Paine is taking a leave of absence from all forms of cricket for the “foreseeable future”, essentially ruling him out of the Ashes and putting his international career in serious doubt.

Cricket Tasmania released a statement announcing the news on Friday morning and said it will “continue to support Tim and his family both professionally and personally over the summer”.

“Tim’s decision makes him unavailable for selection for today’s Marsh One-Day Cup match against Western Australia. His place in the squad will be taken by Charlie Wakim,” the statement read.

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Paine’s manager James Henderson tweeted: “Confirming that @tdpaine36 is stepping away from cricket for an indefinite mental health break. We are extremely concerned for his and Bonnie’s well-being and will be making no further comment at this time.”

Cricket Tasmania boss Dominic Baker told ABC radio in Hobart: “It’s a traumatic event for him … a week ago he was the Australian captain so these things take time. I think he’s done the right thing, he’s prioritising his welfare and the welfare of his family.”

Paine’s announcement comes the week after he stood down as Australian Test captain because a sexting scandal with a former Cricket Tasmania staffer was made public.

Paine sent lewd messages to a woman on the eve of the 2017/18 Ashes series, but an investigation cleared him of any code of conduct breach when the matter was brought to Cricket Australia’s attention in 2018.

With this in mind, there has been much debate since about whether Paine should have been appointed full-time captain after Steve Smith’s ban following the ball tampering scandal in South Africa in 2018.

Paine skippered the final match of that infamous tour and has remained in charge of the Test team until last Friday, when he quit in an emotional statement to the press.

Paine announced last week that although he was standing down as Test captain, he intended to remain available for selection for this summer’s upcoming Ashes series, the first Test of which starts in Brisbane on December 8.

That now looks increasingly unlikely and the wicketkeeper’s decision to step away from cricket opens the door for either Alex Carey or Josh Inglis to make their Test debut behind the stumps.

South Australian Carey has long been considered Australia’s next gloveman in waiting but has fallen out of favour in white-ball formats as selectors looked to younger talents like Josh Philippe and Inglis, who made his T20 international debut in a warm-up game against New Zealand last month.

Paine made a return to cricket with Tasmania’s second XI on Monday after a lengthy lay-off following neck surgery, and impressed with six catches. But he fared worse with the bat, registering scores of one and seven in his two digs against South Australia.

On Thursday, Tasmania announced Paine had been included in the squad for Friday’s one-day match against Western Australia as he sought as much match practice as possible before the Ashes.

His last game for Australia was against India at the Gabba in January. He does not play limited overs cricket for the national side, and watched on at home as Aaron Finch led the team to a win at the T20 World Cup in the UAE.

Bonnie supportive after sexting scandal

Paine’s wife Bonnie spoke out last weekend about the scandal, saying she felt sorry her husband was being forced to re-live a shameful moment from his past he deeply regrets.

“I have a bit of sympathy for Tim. A lot actually. He and I went through all of this privately in 2018,” she told the Sunday Herald Sun.

“I feel a bit frustrated that it’s all been brought up and aired in the public when we put it to bed years ago. I have moved forward since then. I feel like there is a lot of injustice for it being dragged out again.”

Bonnie said she was “completely rocked” to find out about the sexting scandal in 2018 and added she found it extremely tough to watch Paine’s emotional press conference last Friday.

“It broke my heart to be honest,” Bonnie said. “It’s sad that he felt he had to step down as captain over it, and I just think that’s unfair. I felt sad for him.

“My trust was a bit shattered from it and learning to try and trust again, was a process. I had my doubts, and there were times where I wanted to leave, and there were times I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. It was very confusing. It did take a long time for us to be strong again, and for us to be in a good place, but we are now.”

Tim full of regret over painful mistake

Speaking last week about his decision to resign as captain, Paine said: “Although exonerated (by CA and CT investigations), 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 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. I do not want this to become an unwelcome disruption to the team ahead of what is a huge Ashes series.

“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, 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.”



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