Former Australia captain Tim Paine ending elite cricket exile after sexting scandal

Ex-Australia skipper Paine will make a comeback to elite cricket  (AFP via Getty Images)
Ex-Australia skipper Paine will make a comeback to elite cricket (AFP via Getty Images)

Former Australia captain Tim Paine will end his long absence from elite cricket next week with the wicketkeeper set to make his Sheffield Shield comeback with Tasmania.

Paine quit the Test captaincy last November in a tearful press conference following revelations that he was investigated in 2018 for sending lewd text messages to a female former receptionist at state governing body Cricket Tasmania. At the time, he said his actions did not meet the “standard of an Australian cricket captain, or the wider community”.

He subsequently withdrew from the game to go on an indefinite “mental health break” and was omitted from Tasmania’s contracts list in May.

Paine returned to training with Tasmania in August and on Tuesday was named in their 13-man squad for the Shield clash against Queensland starting Thursday, with captain and wicketkeeper Matthew Wade unavailable due to international commitments.

Paine, who played his last first-class match in April 2021, was set to lead Australia into the home Ashes series last year until the “sexting” allegations became public.

He was replaced by fast bowler Pat Cummins as captain, with Alex Carey taking his spot behind the stumps.

Paine, who said his texting of the former Cricket Tasmania staffer was consensual, was cleared by an internal Cricket Australia investigation in 2018, which was not revealed to the public until late last year.

“We have absolute faith and trust in Tim and his preparation,” said Tasmania coach Jeff Vaughan.

“Physically he is probably in the greatest spot of his physical career, emotionally he is sound. He has been training really well with us the last two months. We have got full faith in his wicketkeeping skillset so he has ticked all of the boxes.”