Australia’s preparations for The Ashes received a massive setback as Tim Paine stepped down as Test captain over a sexting scandal. As per reports, Paine sent lewd messages to a female co-worker in 2017.
Paine was investigated by Cricket Australia and Cricket Tasmania, who concluded that there had been no breach of the Cricket Australia Code of Conduct. However, the 36-year-old recently learned that the private exchange was to be made public.
Following the development, the wicketkeeper-batter announced his resignation as Australia’s Test captain in Hobart on Friday.
Releasing a statement, Paine said:
“Today, I'm announcing my decision to stand down as the captain of the Australian men's test team. It's an incredibly difficult decision, but the right one for me, my family, and cricket."
Apologizing for his conduct, Paine said that he was stepping down because he didn’t want the controversy to become “an unwelcome disruption to the team ahead of what is a huge Ashes series”.
Tim Paine: No stranger to controversies
In the wake of Paine’s decision to step down as Australia’s Test captain, we look back at previous instances when the cricketer made news for the wrong reasons.
#1 Paine’s “no one is forcing you to come” dig at England
At a time when there was growing uncertainty over England’s arrival in Australia for the Ashes owing to COVID-19 rules, Paine, in an unemphatic manner, sent out a message to the England cricketers - "If you don’t want to come, don’t come".
Speaking on Australian radio station SEN Hobart, Paine showed scant regard for the plight of England’s cricketers, who were worried about their mental well-being and commented:
“They’ll have a choice to make, you either get on that plane or don’t. No one is forcing you to come. If you don’t want to come, don’t come. The Ashes are going ahead. The first Test is on 8 December, whether Joe is here or not. There will be a squad of England players coming here.”
That’s not all. Paine even went on to claim that England’s players complaints were nothing more than an attempt to secure “the best possible conditions they can”.
#2 Paine’s expletive-filled rant at umpire
Paine lost his cool and had a go at the on-field umpire after Indian batter Cheteshwar Pujara survived a bat-pad appeal on Day 3 of the India versus Australia third Test in Sydney at the start of 2021.
The Australians appealed for a catch by Matthew Wade off Nathan Lyon’s bowling. After the umpire ruled the batter not out, Paine went for the DRS. While the leg-side hotspot replays were blocked by Wade’s body, “UltraEdge” showed a small spike as the ball went past the bat.
The third umpire, however, upheld the not out call, which led to a verbal onslaught from Paine.
The Australian captain lashed out at on-field umpire Paul Wilson, who promptly told him that he was not the third umpire. However, Paine continued to argue with the umpire and even used expletives during the exchange.
He was fined 15 per cent of his match fee for showing dissent at an umpire's decision.
Paine’s anger stemmed from an incident during the previous Test when he was given out caught despite there not being conclusive evidence of him having edged a ball.
#3 Frustrated Paine’s ugly tirade against Ashwin
An injured Hanuma Vihari and Ravichandran Ashwin's blockathon during the Sydney Test clearly left Paine frustrated. He tried to needle the latter but chose the wrong man. Paine got extremely abusive and passed snide personal remarks about the Indian off-spinner.
The Aussie wicketkeeper was caught on stump mic telling Ashwin:
“At least my teammates like me, dick***d. I’ve got a lot more Indian friends than you do.”
In another pathetic sledge, he added:
“How many IPL teams really wanted you in their team when you begged every single one of them to have you?”
Paine also infamously told Ashwin:
“I can’t wait to get you to the Gabba Ash. I will tell you what, woo hoo.”
The Indian batter swiftly responded:
“Just like we want to get you to India, that will be your last series.”
Having gotten too involved in conversations with Ashwin, Paine ended up dropping Vihari’s catch. India went on to save the Test. The Aussie captain apologized to Ashwin and claimed he was "bitterly disappointed" in his own conduct.
There was more pain for Paine as India created history by winning The Gabba Test and social media took no time in reminding him about the “See you at The Gabba” jibe.
#4 Paine’s lame excuse over Gabba defeat
A few months after the Test series defeat to India at home, Paine claimed that India’s “sideshows” distracted them. The 36-year-old said that Indians put them off with stuff that didn’t really matter.
He was quoted as saying by news.com.au over India’s apparent unwillingness to travel to The Gabba:
"Part of the challenge of playing against India is they're very good at niggling you and trying to distract you with stuff that doesn't really matter and there were times in that series where we fell for that. The classic example was when they said they weren't going to the Gabba so we didn't know where we were going. They're very good at creating these sideshows and we took our eye off the ball."
After receiving plenty of backlash, Paine clarified that he “certainly wasn’t making any excuses” for the team’s defeat. He pointed out that he had admitted Australia were outplayed by India.
#5 Paine-Kohli’s near chest bump
Virat Kohli and Paine were clearly not fond of each other during the 2018 series Down Under. The Australian captain was even heard telling Indian opener Murali Vijay about Kohli:
"I know he's your captain but you can't seriously like him as a bloke."
Paine and Kohli engaged in a number of verbal volleys during the Perth Test in 2018. But matters got out of hand when the two came close to chest-bumping each other. Their behavior led to a stern rebuke from umpire Chris Gaffaney, who reminded them:
“Come on, play the game. You guys are the captains. Tim, you’re the captain.”
“We’re just having a conversation. There’s no swearing.”
Australia went on to win the Perth Test by 146 runs as Nathan Lyon claimed eight wickets.