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ACA comes out in support of Paine; says he shouldn't have quit

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Hobart, Nov 19 (IANS) The Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) has come out in support of Tim Paine, who decided to step down from Test captaincy less than three weeks before the Ashes, after revealing that he was involved in a sexting scandal.

In a statement released soon after Paine organised a press conference, where he did not take questions, ACA said it did not believe the wicketkeeper-batter needed to quit as captain.

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“While respecting the decision made by Tim Paine, the ACA is saddened that he felt the need to resign from the captaincy of the Australian Test team. While regrettable, this was an historical mistake that was a private matter between consenting individuals. Tim fully cooperated in an integrity investigation by Cricket Australia in 2018 in which he was exonerated.

“Tim humbly recognised the respect that comes with the Australian captaincy and his resignation reflects the esteem in which he held the role that he served so well in a trying period for Australian cricket. Tim’s captaincy has been regarded throughout the cricket world as playing a crucial role in restoring pride back in the Australian team, both in their performance and the spirit in which they play the game,” ACA said in a statement.

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Paine had taken over Australia’s Test captaincy following the Sandpaper scandal in South Africa in 2018, following which then skipper Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were banned.

“While Tim has clearly made a mistake, he will continue to have the full and unequivocal support of the ACA,” the statement added.

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Paine was involved in a text exchange with an ex-female employee of Cricket Tasmania (CT) in 2017, and while he has stepped down as captain ahead of the gruelling Ashes, he will be available for selection for the series.

An emotional Paine, who was made aware that the text exchange would become public, read a brief statement which said, “It’s an incredibly 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 CA 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.

“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,” added Paine.

The Ashes begin at the Gabba on December 8.

Paine has so far played 35 Test matches for Australia, making his debut against Pakistan at Lord’s in 2010. He played four Tests that year and did not return the Test side until the 2017/18 Ashes when he guided the hosts to a 4-0 victory.

He later became Australia Test skipper following the Sandpaper scandal.

–IANS

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