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.

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."

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."

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.

Australia have named a 15-man squad for the opening two Ashes Tests, with captain Tim Paine included despite an injury cloud and veteran Usman Khawaja recalled.

Paine is yet to return to competitive cricket after neck surgery in September but leads an Australia team looking to win the Ashes after retaining the urn with a 2-2 series draw in England in 2019.

Khawaja, who turns 35 next month, earns a recall after strong Sheffield Shield form with two centuries in four matches, having not played the longest format of cricket since the third Ashes Test in 2019.

Victorian left-hander Marcus Harris appears set to open the batting alongside David Warner, with Will Pucovski absent due to another concussion, while Travis Head and Khawaja will battle to take the number five role.

Head was dropped in Australia's last Test series against India in January.

The first Test takes place at the Gabba in Brisbane from December 8, followed by the day-night Test at Adelaide Oval from December 16.

National selection panel chair George Bailey said: "Marcus has been a consistent run scorer domestically and had a strong winter further developing his game with Leicestershire. He is a good player who will be looking to build a strong partnership with David Warner at the top of the order.

"Travis finished last summer strongly, second only to Cameron Green for runs scored, and has again started the season well. He drives the game forward and can put the opposition under pressure with his ability to score quickly.

"Similarly, Usman Khawaja has been in great touch. He brings a calm, consistent and experienced component to the batting line up and is a proven run scorer at Test level. He also has the ability to bat across a range of positions in the batting order."

Jhye Richardson and Michael Neser are included as fast bowling depth, although the latter recently sustained a minor hamstring strain playing for Queensland in the Sheffield Shield.

"Jhye is seeing the rewards of concentrating on his red ball cricket in the build up to this series. We know he has an exceptional skill set and are excited about what he brings to the team now his body is back on track," Bailey said.

 

Australia Test squad: Tim Paine (c), Pat Cummins (vc), Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, Jhye Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has conditionally approved for The Ashes tour to go ahead in Australia.

England captain Joe Root and his deputy Jos Buttler are among the players who stated they were not ready to commit to the five-match series due to uncertainty over coronavirus restrictions.

Bubble fatigue and quarantine periods for the players' families are issues that have been raised, leading to doubts over whether the five-match Test series – due to start at The Gabba on December 8 – will go ahead.

The ECB on Friday confirmed England will tour Australia, providing "several critical conditions" are met before they board the plane.

"Over recent weeks we have made excellent progress in moving forward on the England men's Ashes Tour," an ECB statement said.

"To facilitate further progress and allow a squad to be selected, The ECB Board has met today and given its approval for the tour to go ahead.

"This decision is subject to several critical conditions being met before we travel.

"We look forward to the ongoing assistance from Cricket Australia in resolving these matters in the coming days."

Australia captain Tim Paine earlier stated he expects England to bring a "really strong" side to Australia, with only "one or two" players opting out of the tour.

"I'm hearing a lot of their players will commit," the wicketkeeper told SEN Radio.

"There might be one or two that don't, but I think we'll see a really strong England side come out here."

Australia's prime minister Scott Morrison last month warned England will not benefit from any "special deals" regarding quarantine rules when they arrive in the country.

Paine says he has spoken to the prime minister as Australia wait for confirmation that England will make the long journey to try to regain the urn.

"He was keen to find out what the sticking points might be from a player's perspective," said Paine of his conversations with Morrison.

"I shared a few text messages with him. He loves his cricket."

Tim Paine expects England to bring a "really strong" team side to Australia for the Ashes with only "one or two" players opting out of the tour.

Captain Joe Root and his deputy Jos Buttler are among the England players who stated they were not ready to commit to the five-match series due to uncertainty over coronavirus restrictions.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is expected to confirm the tour will go ahead following a meeting on Friday, a day after chairman Ian Watmore stepped down.

Australia skipper Paine insisted the Ashes will be starting at The Gabba on December 8 regardless of whether Root decides to travel.

Paine on Friday revealed he has been informed that England will not be hugely depleted.

"I'm hearing a lot of their players will commit," the wicketkeeper told SEN Radio.

"There might be one or two that don't, but I think we'll see a really strong England side come out here."

Australia's prime minister Scott Morrison last month warned England will not benefit from any "special deals" regarding quarantine rules when they arrive in the country.

Paine says he has spoken to the prime minister as Australia wait for confirmation that England will make the long journey to try to regain the urn.

"He was keen to find out what the sticking points might be from a player's perspective," said Paine of his conversations with Morrison.

"I shared a few text messages with him. He loves his cricket."

Tim Paine says the Ashes will go ahead as scheduled regardless of whether Joe Root and other key England players travel to Australia.

Root this week stated that he is "desperate" to do battle with fierce rivals Australia, but the England captain is not ready to commit to the tour until there is more clarity over coronavirus restrictions.

Jos Buttler is among the other England players who have made it clear they may pull out if their families are not allowed to head to Australia.

Talks between Cricket Australia and the England and Wales Cricket Board over what protocols may be in place are ongoing, with players having already spent long periods in bio-secure bubbles at home and overseas.

Skipper Paine says he will lead his side out at The Gabba on December 8 come what may.

"The Ashes are going ahead - the first Test is on December 8 whether Joe's here or not," the wicketkeeper told SEN Hobart.

"They all want to come, there's no doubt about it.

"They're trying to get themselves the best possible conditions they can, but at the end of the day, we all are.

"It will be worked out above us and then they'll make a decision whether or not they'll get on that plane. There will be a squad of England players coming here for the first Test on December 8th."

Australia prime minister Scott Morrison last month warned England will not benefit from any "special deals" regarding quarantine rules when they arrive in the country.

Australia Test captain Tim Paine will undergo neck surgery this week but expects to return in time for The Ashes in December.

A pinched nerve in his neck had caused problems in pre-season with Tasmania and the wicket-keeper has chosen to undertake surgery in Hobart on Tuesday.

The first Ashes Test starts in December in Brisbane, but Paine is estimated to be back to light training by the end of September, resume full training the following month and complete his recovery by the start of November.

"The consensus of the spinal surgeon and the CA medical team was to have the surgery now which will allow plenty of time to fully prepare for the summer," Paine said in a statement released by Cricket Australia.

"I expect to be able to restart physical activity by the end of this month and be back in full training in October.

"I will be ready to go by the first Test and am very much looking forward to what will be a huge summer."

Paine, whose finger injuries almost forced him into an early retirement in 2016, averages just 28.61 against England – making just two 50s in 16 innings – but has lifted the urn twice.

The 36-year-old was a part of the side that thrashed England 4-0 in the home 2017-18 series before a 2-2 away draw in 2019 saw his side retain The Ashes.

Australia have only played four Tests in the last 18 months but Paine also gave his backing to cancel November's Test against Afghanistan due to the Taliban's stance that women will not play cricket during their ruling.

Following Cricket Australia stating there was "no alternative" but to cancel the maiden Test, Paine added to SEN Radio last week: "I don't think we want to be associated with countries that are taking opportunities or things off literally half their population."

Australia national selector Trevor Hohns believes criticism of Tim Paine's leadership has been "totally unfair".

Paine came under fire during Australia's 2-1 Test series loss to India, with the skipper apologising for his behaviour during the Sydney Test.

Amid questions over the 36-year-old's future, Paine retained the captaincy as Australia's Test squad for their tour of South Africa was named on Wednesday.

Hohns said there was no doubt over the wicketkeeper's leadership, hitting out at what he feels has been unfair criticism.

"Tim's leadership in our mind was never in question. We did not spend one minute on Tim's leadership during our selection meeting," he told a news conference.

"He's been a terrific leader of this Australian team through some pretty trying circumstances since he's been in the top position. And I must say too, if you don't mind, some of the criticism he's had to endure in our view has been pretty wide of the mark, in particular some of it has been in poor taste from overseas people.

"I think the criticism of Tim Paine has been totally unfair."

Star Australia paceman Pat Cummins, 27, has been touted as a possible future captain.

Hohns said it was important for Australia to have options going forward.

"Of course, we're always looking for leaders and when the opportunity arises to possibly give somebody some experience," he said.

"Over the last week or two, there has been various names thrown up and let's face it, we've got to canvas all of those options and try to come up with a leader or a group of leaders, which is what we've tried to do over the last couple of years, who can take Australian cricket forward."

Rishabh Pant described his match-winning innings in India's stunning victory over Australia as "one of the biggest moments of my life".

Pant was unbeaten on 89 as India remarkably chased down 328 to beat Australia by three wickets at the Gabba, sealing a 2-1 series triumph as they retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

It ended Australia's 31-match unbeaten run at the venue as the tourists pulled off one of the all-time great Test victories, leaving Pant thrilled.

"This is one of the biggest moments of my life now, and I'm happy that all the support staff and all my team-mates supported me even when I wasn't playing," he said during an on-field presentation.

"It's been a dream series. The team management always backs me and tells me, you are a match-winner and you have to go win the match for the team.

"I keep thinking every day that I want to win matches for India, and I did it today. It was a fifth-day pitch and the ball was turning a bit. I thought I have to be disciplined with my shot selection."

Ajinkya Rahane was almost lost for words to sum up his feelings, having come in as stand-in captain after Virat Kohli returned home to attend the birth of his child.

"It really means a lot to us. I don't know how to describe this victory. I'm just proud of all the boys, each and every individual," said Rahane, who contributed a brisk 24 from 22 balls in the final innings.

"We just wanted to give our best, not to think about the result. When I went in, conversation between me and [Cheteshwar] Pujara was Puji to bat normal and me to go for my shots, because we knew Rishabh and Mayank [Agarwal] were there.

"Credit to Pujara, the way he handled the pressure was magnificent, and Rishabh was brilliant in the end."

Having bowled India out for 36 to win the opening Test, Australia were left to rue a series that slipped from their grasp.

Captain Tim Paine conceded India deserved their success and urged his own team to look forward to the challenges ahead.

He said: "Absolutely disappointed.

"We came here to win the Test and win the series, it's been a bit of a trend that we were found wanting in the key moments and completely outplayed by a tough Indian side that fully deserves the win.

"I think there's lots of things we'll look back at, but what's done is done. We need to look forward now, there's a big series in South Africa coming up, we've been outplayed by the better side in this series."

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