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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Pat Cummins named new Australian Test captain as Tim Paine takes leave of absence over sexting scandal

The news came as Paine’s manager, James Henderson, confirmed Paine would miss the Ashes as he take an immediate leave of absence from cricket for mental health reasons.

Paine stepped down from the captaincy last week after details of a sexting scandal became public. Henderson said he was “extremely concerned” for the well-being of Paine and his wife Bonnie following the fallout.

As vice-captain, Cummins was the obvious choice to replace Paine and his appointment enables a rapid transition with the start of the Ashes series against England less than two weeks away.

Smith replaces Cummins as vice-captain, returning to a formal leadership role after serving a 12-month ban and a two-year leadership suspension in the wake of the Newlands ball-tampering scandal in 2018.

Popular, telegenic and amiable in public, Cummins has taken over as Australia’s leading paceman in recent seasons and tops the ICC’s Test bowling rankings.

Paine had played a second XI game for Tasmania this week and was expected to fly to Queensland on Saturday to join Australia’s squad ahead of the first Ashes Test on December 8.

But the 36 year-old’s participation in the series looked unlikely on Thursday night after it was confirmed Paine would not be available for selection. Cricket Tasmania added Paine would be absent from all forms of cricket “for the foreseeable future”.

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 said it would continue to support Paine as he steps away from the sport.

In a statement, it said: “Following discussions over the last 24 hours, Tim Paine has advised Cricket Tasmania that he will be taking a leave of absence from all forms of cricket for the foreseeable future.

“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.

“Cricket Tasmania will continue to support Tim and his family both professionally and personally over the summer.”

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