Hobart: In a bombshell announcement on Friday, Australian Test captain Tim Paine stepped down from the post after being investigated by Cricket Australia over sending a co-worker an explicit image of himself along with a string of lewd messages.
With barely three weeks to go for the Ashes series against old foes England, the news has shaken the Australian cricket establishment to the core.
In a hurriedly-convened press conference in Hobart, a tearful Paine, who was recovering quickly from invasive neck surgery and was looking forward to the Ashes, announced he was quitting after an off-field scandal was reportedly unearthed by News Corp.
Reports claimed a Cricket Tasmania female employee was offended by "Mr Paine's sexually explicit, unwelcome and unsolicited photograph of his genitals in addition to the graphic sexual comments." Paine will, however, continue to be a part of the Australian team.
"It's an incredibly difficult decision, but the right one for me, my family, and cricket," Paine was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au on Friday.
"As 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," Paine said
"Although exonerated, I deeply regretted in the incident at a time and I do so today. I spoke to my wife and family at a time and am enormously grateful for their forgiveness and support," he added.
Test vice-captain Pat Cummins looks set to become the first pace bowler to lead the Test side in 65 years.