Tim Paine announced his shock resignation as Australian Test cricket captain on Friday over an explicit "private text exchange" with a female colleague.
Veteran wicketkeeper was named in a News Corp. report as being at the center of the sexting scandal. The 36-year-old Paine appeared before media on Friday to announce he was resigning the captaincy but wanted to remain a member of the Test squad.
Cricket Australia's media release said that Paine did not breach the board's code of conduct, but the cricketer decided to step down from the captaincy post.
"It's an incredibly difficult decision, but the right one for me, my family, and cricket," said Paine at the press conference.
"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.
"Although exonerated, 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."
The messages date to 2017, months before Paine was recalled to the Test team after a seven-year absence.
Reports claimed a Cricket Tasmania employee was offended by "Mr Paine's sexually explicit, unwelcome and unsolicited photograph of his genitals in addition to the graphic sexual comments."
The 36-year-old was promoted as captain following the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa in 2018. CA has accepted Paine's resignation and has started the process of identifying and appointing the next Test captain.
CA chairman Richard Freudenstein indicated Paine's decision to step down was his own.
"Tim felt it was in the best interests of his family and Australian cricket to take this decision to step down as captain," Freudenstein said.
"While the board acknowledges an investigation cleared Tim of any breach of the code of conduct regarding this matter some years ago, we respect his decision," CA said in a statement.
"CA does not condone this type of language or behaviour. Despite the mistake he made, Tim has been an exceptional leader since his appointment and the Board thanks him for his distinguished service."
Paine becomes the second consecutive Australian Test captain in recent years to quit his job owing to a scandal, following Steve Smith's resignation as the skipper in the wake of the ball-tampering episode in South Africa.
During correspondence with Australian cricket authorities in June 2018, the woman claimed she was offended by "Mr Paine's sexually explicit, unwelcome and unsolicited photograph of his genitals in addition to the graphic sexual comments".
The woman quit her job in 2017.
Vice-captain Pat Cummins is expected to captain Australia in the Ashes which begins on 8 December.
With AP and PTI inputs
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