Australian cricket has been rocked by another captaincy scandal – this time involving Tim Paine and just weeks before the Ashes start.
On Friday, Paine announced his decision to resign from the role over sexually explicit text messages to a female member of staff in 2017.
The married father-of-two young children was investigated by Cricket Australia in 2018 after the woman complained, but cleared of misconduct and the matter kept secret.
Tim Paine resigned as Australia Test captain on Friday due to his part in a sexting scandal
The 36-year-old sent a photo of his penis to a 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*** me, I’m seriously hard,’ one of the messages sent to the Cricket Tasmania employee read.
As a result of his misdemeanour, Sportsmail looks at the candidates that could succeed the wicket-keeper as Australia’s Test leader.
As vice-captain, 28-year-old fast bowler Pat Cummins would be the obvious choice to replace Paine and his appointment would enable a rapid transition with the start of the Ashes series against England only three weeks away.
Although Cummins has an impeccable record and currently tops the test bowling rankings, Australia, like most of cricket’s leading nations, has traditionally chosen its captains from the ranks of its batters.
Ray Lindwall’s temporary one-test stint in India in 1956 makes him the only specialist fast bowler to lead Australia in the longest format of the game.
Cummins, though, said recently he was ready, willing and able to step up to the top job and was not overly concerned about adding the captaincy duties to the sometimes arduous workload of leading the pace attack.
Former captain Steve Waugh said earlier this month that it was time a bowler, specifically Cummins, was given the chance to lead the test team, and middle-order batman Travis Head concurred on Friday.
‘Obviously Pat’s been well spoken about, named as vice-captain, it’s hard to go past him, or give him the opportunity,’ he told reporters after Paine’s resignation.
‘He’s someone who oozes leadership, not only in the way he presents himself and speaks and the way he goes about things and the way he trains, but also when he’s on the field.’
Head is another candidate, having held the vice-captaincy role alongside Cummins between January 2019 and November 2020. He was demoted 12 months ago ahead of the Test series against India with Cummins taking the role solely instead.
However, Head has been endorsed before as a future Test captain – with Paine an advocate of that in 2019.
Writing an article for News Corp, Paine commented that Head had ‘an old head on young shoulders’ and that he was adapting well to Test cricket.
‘Travis Head got named one of our vice-captains last week and excuse the pun, but he has an old head on young shoulders,’ Paine said.
‘He’s been captain of South Australia for a number of years and he’s growing in confidence at this level and has a nice, calm way about him.
‘He’s someone who has been recommended by his peers first and foremost and secondly I imagine he’s someone we see as a potential captain down the track if he is playing good enough cricket in the years to come.’
One thing that will go against Head though is that he’s not guaranteed a Test place – with batter Usman Khawaja set to battle him for a place in the middle order.
The above issue with Head doesn’t apply to Marnus Labuschagne who is a nailed on Test-cert for the Baggy Greens.
The No 3 batter has been in excellent form since holding his place in the team in 2019. The 27-year-old averages 60.81 having scored 1,885 runs from 18 Tests so far. Oh and to solidify that further he has reached a a half-century 10 times and scored five 100s.
Labuschagne, who’s brilliance with the bat is akin to Steve Smith, did put his hand up for future Test captaincy as recently as November 13, saying: ‘For me, absolutely, I would love to captain Australia.
‘Everyone would love that. But for me, it’s about making sure I put the team first and when you’re talking about being a leader, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need the title. You can be a leader without the title, and I think that’s the role I can play.’
Australia’s most talented player but also most controversial member. Before Paine’s reign, Smith was the Test captaincy incumbent.
However, the third-best batter in ICC rankings was stripped of the captaincy for his role in the shameful ‘Sandpapergate’ ball-tampering scandal during Australia’s 2018 tour of South Africa.
A blubbering Smith acknowledged his wrongdoing and was slapped with a two-year leadership ban by Cricket Australia – which he has now served.
In anticipation of Paine’s widely-expected retirement at the end of the Ashes series, a media campaign to resurrect Smith’s three-year reign as skipper had been rumbling along for a while now – something he expressed his interest in.
‘I guess now I’ve got to a point where if the opportunity did come up again I would be keen,’ Smith told News Corp in March.
‘If it was what Cricket Australia wanted and it was what was best for the team at the time, it’s certainly something I would be interested in.
‘I’m always going to have to live with Cape Town regardless of whether I lead again or not. It’s always there. Time keeps moving forward, and I’ve learnt so much the last few years about myself and grown as a human being.’
Only time will tell if Cricket Australia would do such a contentious re-hiring.