The first Test between India and New Zealand swung back in the hosts' favour on Saturday thanks to the brilliance of Axar Patel.

The left-arm spinner accounted for Tom Latham, who was just five runs short of a century, before making light work of the lower order to finish with figures of 5-62.

It was the fifth five-four Axar has recorded in his previous seven innings in Test cricket and it seemed to inspire the rest of India's attack as they left New Zealand all out on 296.

Latham and Will Young had put New Zealand in a commanding position of 129-0 at the close of day two, and their partnership of 151 steered the Black Caps to 213-2 despite the best efforts of Axar and Ravichandran Ashwin (3-82).

However, the match changed course in the afternoon session. Umesh Yadav trapped Kane Williamson lbw after the captain managed just 18 off 64 deliveries, and Axar took the wickets of Ross Taylor (11) and Henry Nicholls (2) while only giving up 14 runs in an 11-over spell.

Tom Blundell and Tim Southee were then skittled by Axar, who capped his performance by catching Kyle Jamieson just as he was building up steam on 23.

There was time for India to put some runs on the board before the light faded, although the excitable crowd in Kanpur was stunned into eerie silence when Jamieson bowled Shubman Gill for his 50th Test wicket with the first ball of the second over.

India will resume on day four on 14-1 with a lead of 63 runs.

Axar hogging the limelight

New Zealand looked to have the match under their control at 196-1 until Axar intervened. It was his fifth five-wicket haul of 2021; the last player to record as many in the year of his Test debut was Australia's Rodney Hogg back in 1978.

"Taking five wickets in seven innings is something the other team-mates have been teasing me about. It's like a dream within a dream start," he said.

Jamieson keeps up New Zealand spirits

After failing to make the most of Latham and Young's impressive opening stand, New Zealand heads were down as India began their second innings.

However, Jamieson's terrific ball to Gill might just have halted the hosts' momentum. It also made the 26-year-old the fastest man to reach 50 Test wickets for New Zealand, his half-century coming in just nine matches, with previous record-holder Shane Bond doing so in 12.

New Zealand fought back brilliantly on day two of the first Test after India debutant Shreyas Iyer made a classy debut century in Kanpur.

India were all out for 345 on Friday after losing six wickets for 79 runs, Tim Southee (5-69) doing much of the damage as he claimed a 13th five-wicket Test haul.

Iyer made a superb 105 at Green Park and Ravindra Jadeja was out for 50, his overnight score, while Ravichandran Ashwin chipped in with 38.

India had been in a strong position when they resumed on 258-4, but the tourists hit back like the world Test champions that they are, Southee setting the tone and Ajaz Patel taking 2-90 after Kyle Jamieson struck three times on day one.

Will Young and Tom Latham then frustrated India by taking the Black Caps through to the close on 129-0.

Young – playing his first Test in India – was unbeaten on 75 and Latham reached 50, the openers demonstrating great temperament and technique.

Latham successfully reviewed after being given out leg before and caught behind to Jadeja and Ashwin respectively as India failed to make a breakthrough.

Young and Latham will resume on day three with New Zealand trailing by 216 as they eye a first Test victory in India for 33 years.


Dream debut for Iyer, Southee outstanding

Iyer got his chance with India missing the likes of captain Virat Kohli, KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma, and he grabbed it with both hands.

After striding to the crease on 75, the 26-year-old went on to become the first India batsman since Prithvi Shaw in October 2018 to make a hundred on his Test bow.

Iyer fell tamely when he was taken by Young off the bowling of Southee, who was outstanding as he bowled 11 overs unchanged in a brilliant spell during the opening session and was rewarded with another five-wicket haul.


Black Caps openers rock solid

A broken hand sustained by Devon Conway during the T20 World Cup opened the door for Young to partner Latham at the top of the order.

The right-hander gave another demonstration that he is very much at home on the Test stage, rock solid in defence and also playing positively as he crafted a second half-century in only his fourth match in the longest format.

Trusty left-hander Latham was watchful as he batted with great assurance to register a 21st Test half-century, with the openers making the India bowlers toil as they built a strong platform.

Pat Cummins will skipper Australia in the upcoming Ashes against rivals England after being confirmed as the country's new Test captain.

Cummins is the first fast bowler to captain Australia's men's Test team on a full-time basis after Tim Paine sensationally stood down last week, having been embroiled in a sexting scandal.

Paine had taken over as Australia skipper from Steve Smith in the wake of the sandpaper scandal during the South Africa Test tour in 2018 but he is now set to miss the Ashes altogether after taking a leave of absence from all forms of cricket for the foreseeable future".

The top-ranked bowler in Test cricket, Cummins will have Smith as his vice-captain as Australia turn their attention to the December 8 Ashes opener in Brisbane.

"I am honoured to accept this role ahead of what will be a massive Ashes summer," Cummins said in a statement on Friday.

"I hope I can provide the same leadership Tim [Paine] has given the group in the past few years.

"With Steve and I as captains, a number of very senior players in this squad and some great young talent coming through we are a strong and tightly knit group.

"This is an unexpected privilege which I am very grateful for and am very much looking forward to."

Australia star Smith returns to the leadership group after he served a two-year ban from holding any leadership role in Australian cricket following the ball-tampering saga three years ago.

Smith was hit with a 12-month suspension for his role in the scandal.

"I am pleased to return to the leadership of the team and look forward to helping and assisting Pat in any way I can," Smith said in a statement as Australia prepare to host England, starting at the Gabba next month.

"Pat and I have played together for a long time, so we know our respective styles well.

"We are also great friends, as is the whole group. As a team, we want to play good, positive cricket and also really enjoy each other's company.

"There are exciting times ahead as we focus on the Ashes and beyond."

Tim Paine is set to miss Australia's upcoming Ashes series against England after Cricket Tasmania announced he is taking a leave of absence from all forms of cricket "for the foreseeable future".

The 36-year-old stepped down from his role as Australia's Test captain last week over an historical investigation into lewd texts sent to a former Cricket Tasmania colleague in 2017.

Paine received the full backing of his team-mates and was still in Australia's Ashes squad to face England, with the first Test scheduled to begin on December 8.

However, Paine has pulled out of Tasmania's one-day match against Western Australia on Friday and is now expected to be out of contention for the Ashes series.

A statement released by Cricket Tasmania on Friday read: "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.

"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."

Paine's manager James Henderson added in a Twitter post that he is worried about the veteran wicketkeeper's mental state, as well as his wife Bonnie after details of the scandal became public a week ago.

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

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

Paine underwent neck surgery in September before returning to action for Tasmania's second XI against South Australia earlier this week.

Pat Cummins and Steve Smith have reportedly been interviewed by Cricket Australia (CA) amid ongoing speculation the pair will step in as captain and vice-captain respectively.

Sri Lanka completed a comprehensive 187-run victory over the West Indies at Galle on Thursday despite defiant half-centuries from Nkrumah Bonner and Joshua da Silva.

Shreyas Iyer marked his Test debut with 75 not out as India held the upper hand by reaching 258-4 at stumps on day one against New Zealand.

Following 54 appearances in limited-overs internationals for his country, Iyer was given the opportunity in the long format and showed he has what it takes in this first game of a two-match series.

The 26-year-old shared an unbroken 113-run fifth-wicket partnership with Ravindra Jadeja, who scrambled a single in the fading light to end the day on 50 not out.

Their commanding batting meant India did not lose a wicket after tea, scoring 104 runs in 28 overs, with Iyer striking a six off William Somerville in the final over of the day.

It was his second maximum of the innings to go with seven fours, giving India a strong platform from which to build on Friday.

Kyle Jamieson was the pick of New Zealand's attack with 3-47 and said India were "maybe a fraction ahead".

He bowled India opener Shubman Gill for 52, having earlier had Mayank Agarwal (13) caught behind, then got lucky when India captain Ajinkya Rahane played on to go for 35.

Cheteshwar Pujara was caught by wicketkeeper Tom Blundell off Tim Southee for 26, but Iyer and Jadeja's solid union meant India finished the day on top at Kanpur's Green Park Stadium.

Jamieson told Sky Sports: "Hopefully the new ball swings a little in the morning and we can take a few, but at the same time there's two really classy guys in the middle and there's still some batters to come, so we'll have to be on our game tomorrow morning.

"I think we've hung around pretty good. To have them four down, certainly we'd have liked another one or two more, but if we have a good start early tomorrow morning we're still in a pretty good position."


Iyer in good company

As he navigated his way three quarters of the way to a century, Iyer found capable and experienced company at the other end. Jadeja is one of just five India players to have reached 200 Test wickets and 2,000 runs in the long format, and he now has 17 fifties alongside a lone Test century. Iyer became India's 63rd debutant to post a half-century, and he could become the 22nd newcomer to make three figures.

Not the only new face

As Iyer caught the eye, India Test debutant Rachin Ravindra found it altogether more tricky to make an impact. In seven overs of his left-arm spin, the 22-year-old Ravindra failed to make a breakthrough, giving away 28 runs.

Nathan Lyon insisted "the best gloveman in the world" Tim Paine must play for Australia after the wicketkeeper resigned as captain over inappropriate behaviour.

Paine stepped down from his Test captaincy role last Friday over a historical investigation into lewd texts sent to a former Cricket Tasmania colleague in 2017.

The 36-year-old, who at the time was found not to have breached Cricket Australia's conduct code and remained captain, is still in Australia's Ashes squad to face England, though a new leader is yet to be announced.

Batter Marcus Harris previously stated Paine has "got all the support of the players" and Lyon has echoed that sentiment towards the wicketkeeper, who was appointed captain in 2018 following Steve Smith's ball-tampering scandal ban.

"I can 100 per cent guarantee he has the full support of the Australian changeroom," Lyon told reporters as Australia prepare for the first Ashes Test on December 8.

"I don't see him as a distraction at all. Come the Gabba Test match and throughout the whole series, we are professional sportspeople, and we will go out and do our job.

"Tim made a mistake, he's owned it, for me that shows great courage to be honest. Tim has got my full support. I am looking forward to catching up as soon as we get out of quarantine.

"In my eyes, Tim is the best gloveman in the country, in the world.

"The selectors said they were going to pick the best available XI and in my eyes Tim Paine is the best keeper in the world. I want him. This is very selfish, from a bowler's point of view, I want the best gloveman behind the stumps."

Off-spinner Lyon and wicketkeeper Paine have formed a strong partnership for Australia but failed to combine for a single wicket against India in the Test series loss last time out.

Since then, Paine has undergone neck surgery in September before returning to action for Tasmania's second XI against South Australia.

Pat Cummins and Steve Smith have reportedly been interviewed by Cricket Australia amid ongoing speculation the pair will step in as captain and vice-captain respectively, much to Lyon's excitement.

"You have a bowler's mindset and a batter's mindset rather than two batters; they can come together and really come up with some good guidance," Lyon said. "I am excited by the fact we are potentially going to have a bowler as captain."

Australia will head to the Gabba with added confidence as well after their T20 World Cup win in the United Arab Emirates, and Lyon claimed there is still a buzz around the camp despite Paine's resignation.

"The mood is incredible," he said. "On the back of the boys winning the World Cup, there are only nine guys here who were part of that, but the staff too, there is an unbelievable feeling in the Australian cricket changerooms right now.

"Our preparation is flying along. I'm ready to go."

Kane Williamson insists New Zealand will not be favourites when they start the defence of their World Test Championship title against an under-strength India side in Kanpur on Thursday.

The Black Caps beat India by eight wickets in the inaugural World Test Championship at the Ageas Bowl in June, so India will be out for revenge in the two-match series on home soil.

Virat Kohli has been rested for the first Test, so Ajinkya Rahane takes charge of a team that will not include Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami and Rishabh Pant.

Rohit, Bumrah, Shami and Pant have been given a rest for both games, while Rahul misses out due to a thigh strain.

India have plenty of strength in depth, though, and you have to go back 33 years for the last time they lost a home match against the Black Caps in the longest format.

New Zealand captain Williamson sat out India's 3-0 T20I whitewash of the tourists, which came so soon after his side had been beaten by Australia in the T20 World Cup final in Dubai.

The prolific batsman knows the Black Caps face a huge challenge, particularly without the opportunity to play any warm-up games.

He said: "I don't think we are favourites. One of the key strengths of Indian cricket is its depth. India has great knowledge of their own conditions, we know the challenge is a big one."

Williamson added: "As we have seen in this part of the world, the spin component has been very large and it has played a big role in changing the complexion of the game.

"I am sure throughout the whole series, the spin component will be a factor and it will be no different in Kanpur. It will be all about assessing the conditions as quickly as possible."

 

Opportunity knocks for Iyer

Shreyas Iyer will make his debut after Rahul was ruled out and is set to come into the middle order, with Shubman Gill to open with Mayank Agarwal.

The 26-year-old right-hander averages 52.18 in first-class cricket, scoring 12 centuries and boasting a strike-rate of 81.54.

Rahane hinted that India may play three spinners, stating: "We are not too sure of the combination. But in India you generally get spin-friendly wickets, the ball generally keeps slightly low and slow.

"We expect that but not too sure how the wicket will play. We will have to wait until tomorrow and assess from there."

Refreshed Jamieson closing in on half-century

Kyle Jamieson joined Williamson in missing the T20I series as the Black Caps managed his workload.

The paceman has made an outstanding start to his Test career and was man of the match when New Zealand beat India in the final in Southampton, having claimed match figures of 7-61.

Four wickets shy of 50 in the longest format, it would be a surprise if Jamieson does not come straight back into the team, particularly with Trent Boult not involved in the series.

New Zealand, who are unbeaten in nine Tests and have never gone 10 without defeat, must decide who replaces Devon Conway (broken hand) at the top of the order, with Will Young appearing set to get the nod.

The West Indies will be praying for a lot more rain come Thursday as they stare defeat squarely in the face after slumping to 52-6 in their second innings still needing 296 runs for what would be an improbable, if not impossible victory.

After rain delayed the start of the fourth day of the Test, the West Indies resuming from their overnight score of 224-9, were eventually bowled out for 230 when Praveen Jayawickrama trapped Shannon Gabriel lbw for 2 leaving Joshua Da Silva not out on 15.

Jayawickrama finished with figures of 4-40 from 19.5 overs to be the best of Sri Lanka’s bowlers.

Leading by 156 on first innings, Sri Lanka led by Captain Dimuth Karunaratne’s 83 and Angelo Matthews unbeaten 69, raced to 191-4 in 40.5 overs, setting West Indies a target of 348.

The pair put on 123 for the third-wicket that effectively batted the West Indies out of the match.

Rahkeem Cornwall took 2-60 while Jomel Warrican finished with 2-42.

Batting a second time the West Indies batsmen were bamboozled by the Sri Lankan spinners crumbling to 18-5 by midway the 12th over.

Ramesh Mendis did most of the damage taking 4-17. He was supported by Lasith Embuldeniya, who took 2-18.

They did meet some late resistance, though, as Da Silva and Nkrumah Bonner, the only batsmen to reach double figures, have so far but on 38 for the seventh wicket. The former is not out in 15 while Bonner is on 18. They will be hoping to bat throughout Thursday’s final day with hopeful eyes on the clouds above.

Marcus Harris insists Tim Paine has the full backing of his Australia team-mates after the wicketkeeper stepped down as Test captain.

Paine resigned as Australia's skipper in the longest format last week due to the emergence of a lewd text exchange with a former Cricket Tasmania colleague back in 2017.

At the time, Paine was found not to have breached Cricket Australia's code of conduct and remained as Test captain, having taken up the position in 2018 following Steve Smith's demotion in light of the sandpaper ball-tampering scandal.

Paine will remain involved with the Australia squad, having been named in the selection to face England, though a new captain is yet to be announced.

Tasmania chairman Andrew Gaggin hit out at CA's treatment of Paine and while Harris revealed the Australia squad were shocked, he says there is full belief that Paine will play a key role in their attempts to retain the Ashes.

"People were obviously a bit shocked but we've got a lot of good leaders around our group," Harris told reporters.

"It's not ideal but someone's going to have to step up and lead from the front.

"Painey will still be around and can still show leadership in many different ways but we're looking forward to getting into camp and getting on with it.

"I think you'd probably still argue that he's still the best gloveman in the country.

"I know he's got all the support of the players and like I said, all that other stuff is up to people above me."

The treatment of Tim Paine has been the worst experienced by an Australia Test captain for over 50 years, according to Cricket Tasmania's chairman.

The 36-year-old stood down from the Australian Test captaincy having been embroiled in a lewd text message scandal from 2017, which was investigated by Cricket Australia (CA) and Cricket Tasmania the following year.

At the time, Paine was found not to have breached CA's code of conduct and remained as Test captain, having taken up the position in 2018 following Steve Smith's demotion in light of the sandpaper ball-tampering scandal.

An emotional Paine made his resignation announcement on Friday after learning the messages were to be revealed publicly, and Tasmania chairman Andrew Gaggin has questioned his treatment. Paine plays domestic cricket for Tasmania.

"The treatment afforded to the Australian Test captain by Cricket Australia has been appalling," Gaggin said. "It is clear that the anger amongst the Tasmania cricket community and general public is palpable.

"At a time when Cricket Australia should have supported Tim, he was evidently regarded as dispensable. The treatment is the worst since Bill Lawry over 50 years ago."

Lawry, who was sacked as captain ahead of the final Test of the 1970-71 Ashes series, found out about it through the media.

Cricket Australia chair Richard Freudenstein and CEO Nick Hockley addressed media on Saturday and stressed they were not in their current positions at the time of the initial investigation, thus were not across the rationale behind the decisions made.

Freudenstein said: "While I cannot speak about the original decision-making in 2018, what I can say is that faced with the same circumstances, and with the benefit of all relevant information about this matter, Cricket Australia would not make the same decisions today.

"I acknowledge that the decision clearly sent the wrong message to the sport, to the community and to Tim – that this kind of behaviour is acceptable and without serious consequences. The role of Australia captain must be held to the highest standards."

At the time of the investigation, David Peever was CA chair and James Sutherland was the organisation's CEO.

Freudenstein added: "A decision was made in 2018 and that decision was final. The details weren't known to anyone who've been on the board since that stage."

Cricket Australia (CA) has admitted it made a mistake in its handling of 2018 investigation into the Tim Paine sexting scandal which led to his resignation from the Test captaincy.

Paine stood down the Australian Test captaincy on Friday having been embroiled in a lewd text message scandal from 2017, which was investigated by CA and Cricket Tasmania in 2018.

At the time, Paine was found not to have breached CA's Code of Conduct and remained in the role as Test captain, having taken up the position earlier that year following Steve Smith's demotion in light of the sandpaper scandal.

CA chair Richard Freudenstein and CEO Nick Hockley addressed the media on Saturday and stressed they were not in their current positions at the time of the investigation, thus were not across the rationale behind the decisions made but said with hindsight they were a mistake.

"Neither of us, Nick Hockley or myself, can speak directly to the decision-making process in 2018," Freudenstein said.

"This includes being able to provide any further insights around how the original judgement was made, that Tim’s behaviour did not breach the code of conduct and that it did not warrant any further disciplinary action.

"Once again, while I cannot speak about the original decision-making in 2018, what I can say is that faced with the same circumstances, and with the benefit of all relevant information about this matter, Cricket Australia would not make the same decisions today.

"I acknowledge that the decision clearly sent the wrong message to the sport, to the community and to Tim – that this kind of behaviour is acceptable and without serious consequences.

"The role of Australia Captain must be held to the highest standards."

At the time of the investigation, David Peever was CA chair and James Sutherland was the organisation's CEO.

Freudenstein added: "A decision was made in 2018 and that decision was final. The details weren't known to anyone who've been on the board since that stage."

Paine follows Smith in being forced to step down from the captaincy in controversial circumstances and Hockley added that highest standards would be expected of the next skipper, expected to be Pat Cummins.

"Going forward I think it's incumbent on everybody to have the highest standards to represent Australia and particularly in a leadership position," Hockley said.

Paine was on Saturday due to play his first game of competitive cricket since neck surgery in September for University of Tasmania against South Hobart-Sandy Bay in Tasmanian club cricket but the day's play was called off due to rain.

Steve Waugh believes Pat Cummins would be the "logical choice" to replace the disgraced Tim Paine as Australia Test captain.

Paine sensationally resigned in shame on Friday and was reduced to tears as he apologised for being embroiled in a sexting scandal.

The wicketkeeper, who is married with two children, revealed the decision was based on an explicit text exchange with a female former Cricket Tasmania colleague in 2017.

Vice-captain Cummins is expected to take over from Paine, who will still be available for selection to face England.

Former Australia skipper Waugh endorsed paceman Cummins to step up.

"Pat Cummins is definitely the front-runner to lead the side in Brisbane for the first Test, he's the vice-captain and there is a lot of talk of him taking over Tim Paine sooner or later even without this incident. So, I think he is the logical choice," Waugh told WA Today.

"For the vice-captain, I don't know, someone like a Steve Smith might be a good vice-captain, he's experienced."

Mark Taylor is another ex-Australia captain to back Cummins for the role three years after Smith's reign as skipper ended due to the Newlands ball-tampering scandal.

"I think CA [Cricket Australia] will probably want to go for someone fresh and clean. The timing will make it a more comfortable decision for CA to make Pat the captain," Taylor told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.

"It will be hard to go back after another controversy to Steve. I know Pat very well, he's a terrific fella. I think it is harder for a quick bowler to be captain. In terms of leadership he will be very good because he’s a good, solid human being."

Australia batter Travis Head thinks Cummins would be a good appointment.

"Obviously Pat’s been well spoken about, named as vice-captain, it's hard to go past him, or give him the opportunity to," he said.

"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."

South Africa legend AB de Villiers has confirmed his retirement from all forms of cricket at the age of 37.

The Proteas great made the announcement on Friday, calling time on a glittering career that saw him win 114 Test caps, feature in 228 ODIs and make 78 T20I outings.

He stepped down from the international stage in 2018 but continued to represent Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League, as well as feature in other T20 competitions. 

However, the prolific batsman - an excellent fielder who also donned the wicketkeeping gloves - will no longer showcase his incredible talents after deciding to call it a day.

"It has been an incredible journey, but I have decided to retire from all cricket," he wrote on Twitter.

"Ever since the back yard matches with my older brothers, I have played the game with pure enjoyment and unbridled enthusiasm. Now, at the age of 37, that flame no longer burns so brightly.

"That's the reality I must accept – and, even if it may seem sudden, that is why I am making this announcement. I've had my time. Cricket has been exceptionally kind to me.

"Cricket has been exceptionally kind to me. Whether playing for the Titans, or the Proteas, or RCB, or around the world, the game has given me unimagined experiences and opportunities, and I will always be grateful.

"I would like to thank every team-mate, every opponent, every coach, every physio and every staff member who has travelled the same path, and I am humbled by the support I have received in South Africa, in India, wherever I have played.

"Last, I am aware that nothing would have been possible without the sacrifices made by my family – my parents, my brothers, my wife Danielle and my children. I look forward to the next chapter of our lives when I can truly put them first."

De Villiers last played for South Africa in a Test match against Australia back in March 2018, having debuted against England in 2004.

He scored 8,765 runs in Tests at an average of 50.66, with 22 centuries as well as taking 222 catches, 101 of those as a keeper.

De Villiers was even more impressive in the ODI format, averaging 53.50 and racking up 25 hundreds in 228 appearances, while he made 1,672 runs in T20I 75 knocks at an average of 26.12. 

The veteran's 157 matches for RCB yielded 4,522 runs at a strike rate of 158.33.

Tim Paine has sensationally resigned as Australia's Test captain on the eve of the Ashes after being embroiled in a sexting scandal.

The 36-year-old wicketkeeper made the stunning announcement at a brief press conference on Friday, although he clarified he intends to remain available for selection.

Paine had taken over as Australian skipper from Steve Smith in the wake of the sandpaper scandal during the South Africa Test tour in 2018.

The Tasmanian, who is married with two children, revealed the decision was based on an explicit text exchange with a female former Cricket Tasmania colleague from 2017.

The incident was investigated at the time and Paine had been cleared of breaching Cricket Australia's Code of Conduct but he had recently learned the exchange was set to be made public and subsequently opted to stand down.

"It's an incredibly difficult decision but the right one for me, my family and cricket," Paine said.

"On reflection my actions in 2017 do not meet the standards of an Australian cricket captain or the wider community. I'm deeply sorry for the hurt and pain that I have caused for my wife, my family and the other party.

"I'm sorry for any damage that this does to the reputation of our sport and I believe it's the right decision for me to stand own as captain effectively immediately. I do not want this to become an unwelcome distraction to the team ahead of a huge Ashes series."

Paine became particularly emotional when discussing his role as Test captain, which he described as the "greatest privilege" of his playing career, having led the side which retained the Ashes in England in 2019.

"I've loved my role as captain of the Australian cricket team," he said. "It's been the greatest privilege of my sporting life to lead the Australian men's team.

"I'm grateful for the support of my teammates and proud of what we've been able to achieve together. To them I ask for understanding and forgiveness. To Australian cricket fans, I'm deeply sorry my past behaviour has impacted our game on the eve of the Ashes.

"I've been blessed with a wonderful loving supportive family and it's breaks my heart to know how much I've let them down. They've always stood by me and been my most loyal fans. I'm indebted to them for their support.

"I will remain a committed member of the Australian cricket team and look forward with anticipation for what is a huge Ashes tour."

Paine had earlier this week been included in Australia's 15-man squad for the first two Ashes Tests despite neck surgery in September.

Fast bowler Pat Cummins had been named in that squad as vice-captain, while Smith may be considered to step in as captain having served his penance for his 2018 indiscretion.

The First Test against England is due to commence at the Gabba in Brisbane on December 8.

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