Tim Paine makes bombshell decision to step away from cricket

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Tim Paine, pictured here in action for Australia.
Tim Paine has stepped away from all forms of cricket. (Image by Mike Egerton/PA Wire).

Tim Paine has made the staggering call to step away from all forms of cricket "for the foreseeable future" in the wake of his sexting scandal.

Paine stepped down as Australia's Test captain last Friday after it emerged that he had sent lewd text messages to a Cricket Tasmania staff member in 2017.

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However the wicketkeeper was still available for selection for the upcoming Ashes series against England and in a battle to prove his fitness.

But the saga was flipped on its head again on Friday when Paine's manager announced that he will now step away from cricket for an indefinite period.

Paine's manager James Henderson said he is "extremely concerned" for the wellbeing of Paine and his wife Bonnie.

"Confirming that @tdpaine36 is stepping away from cricket for an indefinite mental health break," Henderson wrote on Twitter.

"We are extremely concerned for his and Bonnie’s well-being and will be making no further comment at this time."

Tim Paine and wife Bonnie, pictured here at the 2020 Australian Cricket Awards.
Tim Paine and wife Bonnie at the 2020 Australian Cricket Awards. (AAP Image/Scott Barbour)

Cricket Tasmania confirmed the news in a statement.

"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," the statement read.

"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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Australia teammates wanted the veteran wicketkeeper to play the first Test at the Gabba, however he will now miss the crunch clash and may never represent his country again.

Paine was called up and set to bat at first drop in Tasmania's one-dayer against Western Australia on Friday, giving him a chance to play five consecutive days of cricket after a low-key return via the state's second XI.

Alex Carey and Josh Inglis, already set to take part in an intra-squad clash beginning on Wednesday, are the candidates set to vie for a baggy green in Paine's expected absence at the Gabba.

Nathan Lyon was one of several players to publicly back Paine to play the first Test.

"The selectors said they were going to pick the best available XI. In my eyes, Tim Paine is the best keeper in the world," Lyon said on Thursday.

"This is very selfish - from a bowler's point of view - I want the best gloveman behind the stumps.

"It's music to my ears (when the ball lands in Paine's gloves).

"Every bowler's relationship with the keeper is exceptional. Tim Paine is a very lovable guy and very well respected.

"I'm pretty sure I'm speaking on behalf of every bowler that we want the best keeper.

"He's got my full support and I 100 per cent guarantee he's got the full support of the Australian change room."

with AAP

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