Yorkshire's director of cricket Martyn Moxon, first-team coach Andrew Gale and all members of the coaching staff have left the club following Azeem Rafiq's racism allegations.

A 100-page independent report in early November upheld that Rafiq had been victim of "racial harassment and bullying" during his time at Yorkshire.

Former chairman Roger Hutton resigned with immediate effect over Yorkshire's response to the investigation, with new chair Kamlesh Patel tasked with changing the culture at the club.

Chief executive Mark Arthur resigned from his position last month, before Gale was suspended pending investigation over a historical tweet, while Moxon took sick leave due to stress.

Yorkshire announced on Friday that Moxon and Gale have left the club, in addition to all members of the coaching staff and the backroom medical team.

A new director of cricket is the immediate priority, according to Patel, who is also recruiting an entire new coaching team for the upcoming season.

"Significant change is required at Yorkshire County Cricket Club and we are committed to taking whatever action is necessary to regain trust," Patel said in a statement on the county's official website.

"The decisions announced today were difficult to make but are in the best interests of the club. Without making important changes to how we are run, we cannot move on from the past to become a culture which is progressive and inclusive.

"We want to make Yorkshire County Cricket Club a place for everyone, from all backgrounds. To do this, we need to rebuild our culture and instil positive values in everyone associated with Yorkshire. 

"We are determined to learn from the mistakes of the past to become a club which people can trust.

"We are hoping to announce a new director of cricket in the coming days. We have a huge rebuilding job to do but we are confident that this heralds a step forward towards a brighter future."

Alex Carey is set to make his Test debut in the Ashes opener between Australia and England in Brisbane next week.

Cricket Australia (CA) on Thursday announced Carey will replace former captain Tim Paine as wicketkeeper in the team for the first two Tests, starting December 8 at the Gabba.

Debutant Carey will be behind the stumps after Paine – who stood down as skipper having been embroiled in a sexting scandal – took a leave of absence from all forms of cricket for the "foreseeable future".

"I am incredibly humbled by this opportunity. It’s an exciting build-up for what is a huge series ahead," Carey – Australia's one-day international wicketkeeper – said in a statement

"My focus is on preparing and playing my part in helping Australia secure the Ashes.

"This is also for my dad who has been my coach, mentor and mate, my mum, my wife Eloise, kids Louis and Clementine, my brother and sister and all of those who have supported me. I will be doing my absolute best to make them and our country proud."

Carey has averaged just 21.85 runs over eight innings with the bat in the Sheffield Shield, though the left-hander has been a consistent performer over the years.

The South Australia star has averaged 59.64, scoring four centuries in nine matches.

England's Jack Leach has said Ben Stokes' return to the squad is a "great boost" ahead of the start of the Ashes series in Australia.

Stokes has not played competitively since July and was initially omitted from England's squad as he recovered from a second operation on a broken finger and took a break to protect his mental wellbeing, but the all-rounder was subsequently added to the travelling party.

Stokes famously partnered Leach in a last-wicket stand of 76 to dramatically beat the Aussies in the third Test at Headingley in 2019.

"Obviously having Stokesy back is a great boost for all of us," Leach said. "Some of the things he's done in the past, you know, he's such an important player for us.

"In terms of the balance, it really helps things out, and it's probably good news for the spin department.

"The wickets aren't necessarily going to be really spin-friendly, but I think spin has as a big part to play in Ashes series where England have been successful.

"The spinners have got a big part to play. So, yeah, I'm hopeful I can be the guy and play that role, definitely."

On how Stokes has reintegrated into training and the squad, Leach added: "Luckily, I haven't had to face him in the nets. But yeah, he's looking really good.

"He's fit back into the group brilliantly. It's great to have him back around.

"He's been brilliant and he's such a team man. I think the group is only better for having him in it. He brings experience, I think he really brings the boys together, so that's been really good.

"He's looking good bowling and batting. I've bowled at him and he doesn't block too many balls from the spinners, so yeah, he's looked good."

Leach is hopeful of playing a part in the upcoming series, and admitted to regularly watching his Australian counterpart Nathan Lyon to pick up tips and tricks to improve his own bowling.

"I'm preparing to play, definitely. Like I do for every series that I'm involved with," he added. "For me, the best way to go about it, obviously is to try to prepare to play, and then obviously be really disappointed if I'm not.

"For years I've watched Nathan Lyon, and he's very impressive how he goes about his business. Just how strong his stock ball is and on wickets that don't necessarily offer a lot spin-wise, I think he's found ways to extract bounce and dip. So a lot over spin from him, and I think those are the kind of things I've been trying to add in.

"You take little bits from everyone you play against. I was in India looking at Axar Patel, [Ravi] Ashwin and seeing what I can take from them. So you're always doing that.

"But I think it's important not to get too caught up in that and also just stick to your strengths as well, and know that you're playing at this level for a reason."

England all-rounder Ben Stokes has declared himself "fit and hungry for a big series" ahead of the first Ashes Test against Australia.

Joe Root's side get their campaign started on December 8 in Brisbane and will be boosted by the return of their star all-rounder Stokes.

The 30-year-old has not played competitively since July and was initially omitted from England's squad as he recovered from a second operation on a broken finger and took a break to protect his mental wellbeing.

But Stokes was subsequently added to the travelling party in October as he assured he was ready to make a comeback for the tour and first Test at The Gabba.

Stokes, who averages 38.37 against Australia, offered England a scare when he took a blow to the forearm in a net session last week before Root confirmed the Durham man was fit. 

With just a week to go before the two old foes do battle once more, Stokes is relishing the opportunity to take on Justin Langer's side.

 

"Don't call it a comeback," Stokes posted on Instagram alongside a video of him training with bat and ball on Wednesday.

"Spent some time testing out the finger with [Adidas] last month.

"Two months ago, I couldn't hold a bat. With one week to go till the first Test, I'm fit and hungry for a big series Down Under!"

Michael Vaughan remains under contract with the BBC, who "expect to work" with the former England captain again after standing him down from their Ashes coverage following Azeem Rafiq's racism allegations.

Vaughan was named in a report this month investigating Rafiq's claims of institutional racism at Yorkshire, but has repeatedly and categorically denied the allegations.

The 47-year-old, who played for Yorkshire between 1993 and 2009, allegedly told a group of team-mates in 2009 there were "too many of you lot, we need to do something about it".

Those claims were corroborated by then Yorkshire player Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and current England white-ball specialist Adil Rashid.

Vaughan has since been stood down from his BBC Radio 5 Live Show before being removed from the broadcaster's Ashes coverage due to his involvement in a "significant story" representing a "conflict of interest".

The BBC reiterated their stance on Wednesday, as they informed that Vaughan – who led England to Ashes glory in 2005 – would play no role in their upcoming coverage, though they look set to work with him in the future.

"We're in regular contact with Michael and have had positive conversations with him in recent days," read a statement from the BBC.

"Our contributors are required to talk about relevant issues, so Michael's involvement in a story of such significance means it's not possible for him to be part of our Ashes coverage or wider cricket coverage at the moment.

"We're pleased with how our conversations are going and expect to work with Michael again in the future. He remains on contract to the BBC."

Vaughan said after the BBC's decision he was "very disappointed not to be commentating on the Ashes" but added he was looking forward to working on the series for Fox Sports in Australia.

Gareth Southgate has been England manager for five years and says the memories of the Three Lions' Euro 2020 campaign will stay with him "forever".

The former Middlesbrough and Crystal Palace defender replaced Sam Allardyce on November 30, 2016, having held the post of Under-21s manager since 2013.

Southgate was initially appointed on an interim basis, but was handed the reins permanently after four games and has since led England to a World Cup semi-final in 2018 and the final of Euro 2020 in July.

England secured their spot at the World Cup in Qatar next year by topping their qualifying group, going unbeaten and conceding just three goals in 10 games in the process, leading to a new contract for the 51-year-old that runs until 2024.

"To take a country to a first final in 55 years, for everybody involved, for all the staff, all the players and for all the fans, some of those memories of Wembley through this summer will live with me forever," Southgate said to England's official website.

"[At the 2018 World Cup in] Russia, we brought a connection back with the fans. There were probably several generations of fans who had not been to a semi-final. This year was unique, really, when you think we had been locked away for so long and everything we had lived through.

"There is an important place for international football. It does bring everyone together. When you feel like you are there with 50 million people behind you, it is an immense feeling.

"People used to say 'well, nobody cares about international football anymore' but they did. I think everybody had just been hurt and disappointed a lot, and you almost don’t want to get hurt anymore and you withdraw from it.

"Now we have some generations of fans who think it has always been this way. Well, let me tell you, folks, it hasn't!"

Southgate gave some insight into the process of rebuilding a team that was low on belief and turning them into a side capable of challenging at major tournaments.

"Confidence was low [when I first took the job]," Southgate added. "This was not a group which was disunited, but there was a lack of confidence because of the last couple of tournaments and two changes of manager in a couple of months, so we needed to stabilise things to begin with and we needed to qualify for a World Cup.

"That was the priority but of course what we knew in the background was there was a younger generation of players coming through to support the guys who were already there that could provide real competition for places, with some good experiences of winning at junior level. 

"[They were] technically really good players that could maybe play in a slightly different way to traditional England teams of the past, where I was in tournaments with England where we couldn’t keep the ball enough.

"Now in the biggest games we have a step to go with that because we have managed that for long periods in tournaments but under real pressure, we still need to be better at that.

"You have to have continuity. You need a real clear sense of direction for everyone who works at St. George’s on the football and for everybody at the FA.

"I think it is a credit to everybody, the different chairmen and chief executives I have worked with here, that they have put football more at the forefront of their thinking and there has been a plan."

It took the man in the waistcoat to turn the tanker.

In a year's time, England will be at the Qatar 2022 World Cup with serious aspirations of bringing back the trophy. And while there are a number of key figures who have made that prospect realistic, nobody stands out quite like Gareth Southgate, who on Tuesday celebrated a five-year anniversary as manager.

Greg Dyke was a newly appointed chairman of the English Football Association (FA) when he declared in a famous 2013 speech: "English football is a tanker that needs turning."

He spoke that day of wishing to create an England team that could be successful on the world stage.

"The two targets I have for the England team are – one, to at least reach the semi-finals of Euro 2020 and two, win the World Cup in 2022," Dyke said. Many duly scoffed.

Nine years on, England have ticked one box, with Southgate's team finishing runners-up to Italy at the delayed Euros; now, a nation expects as his squad bid to match Alf Ramsey's 1966 heroes.

 

A questionable choice?

It was not Dyke who selected Southgate after Roy Hodgson's four-year reign ended and successor Sam Allardyce lasted just one game, an ill-fated choice.

Indeed, as Dyke left his post at FA HQ in the summer of 2016, he questioned the appeal of the England manager's job, specifically asking "why anybody would want it".

Southgate was unsure initially too, albeit for a different reason, saying the role "wasn't something I think I've got the experience for". But his tune soon changed, with Allardyce's reign ending abruptly after a newspaper investigation within weeks of his appointment and the FA needing a steady hand on the tiller.

Southgate made 426 Premier League appearances in his playing career – more than anyone else with zero appearances off the bench. He was therefore not used to being deployed as a substitute, but on this occasion he accepted the chance to step in as a replacement.

His credibility for the England post had been questioned, with former Tottenham and West Ham boss Harry Redknapp dismissive of the notion that Southgate would know all about the English system.

"Knows what system? The losing system? He knows the losing formula? I like Gareth Southgate, he's a great lad," Redknapp told BBC Radio 5 Live, "but what's he done?"

Egyptian striker Mido, who played under Southgate at Middlesbrough, tweeted: "I can't believe that in England they are talking about @GarethSouthgate to become the new Manager!! I hope he learned since the @Boro days!!"

Even former Three Lions midfielder Jermaine Jenas balked at the prospect of Southgate's three years as England Under-21 manager being a suitable pathway to the senior role, instead throwing his support behind Glenn Hoddle.

In a column for Yahoo, Jenas said of Hoddle: "I know he has been out of the managerial game for a long time, but I certainly think he would be a better option than Southgate."

 

From scaredy cats to roaring lions

Dyke said Roy Hodgson's England were "just scared" as they lost to Iceland at the Euro 2016 last-16 stage, heading home humiliated by relative minnows. Hodgson promptly resigned.

"It's the same in all sport," Dyke said. "Really talented sportsmen can just freeze. That's what happens."

After the Allardyce interlude came Southgate's appointment as a caretaker coach, and British bookmakers swiftly rated him favourite to keep the job on a permanent basis, ranking Steve Bruce, Alan Pardew, Eddie Howe and Hoddle as next in line on the list of likely candidates.

As well as having managed the England Under-21 team, Southgate also previously held the role of head of elite development at the FA. Jenas might not have liked it, but getting not only a foot in the door, but both feet and an office to call his own, and the respect of a young generation of rising stars, made Southgate an obviously worthy candidate.

Wins over Malta and Scotland, and draws with Slovenia and Spain, earned Southgate an interview for the permanent post, and he impressed a selection panel that featured FA chief executive Martin Glenn, technical director Dan Ashworth and chairman Greg Clarke – Dyke's successor – to the point he was handed the job permanently on November 30, 2016.

Southgate has been a revelation: England reached the 2018 World Cup semi-finals, losing out to Croatia, before surging through to the Euro 2020 title match, a first major final since Bobby Moore led the team to World Cup glory.

Along the way, the man who was a scapegoat for England's Euro 96 exit, when he missed a crucial semi-final shoot-out penalty against Germany, has become a national treasure.

"Southgate, you're the one" sing England fans nowadays, while his uptake of a waistcoat on the touchline became a symbol of stylistic significance at the World Cup in Russia, sparking a rush of high street sales and analysis by the fashion media.

The England boss told the BBC: "If you had said to the players when I started at Crystal Palace that I was going to be upheld as the sartorial model for the country, you'd have been hooted out of the training ground."

 

How has he developed a new England?

Once Southgate was handed the job permanently, he was able to outline his manifesto. "When I played, particularly in 1996, there were captains through the team that were captains of their club," he said.

The England starting XI for the fateful Iceland game in 2016 contained one club captain: Manchester United's Wayne Rooney. For the team's most recent game, the 10-0 drubbing of San Marino, Southgate named a defensive unit consisting of three club skippers: Aston Villa's Tyrone Mings, Wolves' Conor Coady and Manchester United's Harry Maguire.

Harry Kane captains England but not his club, Tottenham. Southgate rates him as a leader par excellence. Jordan Henderson has built up years of experience in skippering Liverpool and is another England regular and vice-captain of the team.

In terms of leadership, England have no shortage of on-field generals, the ideal complement to their burgeoning crop of talented, freewheeling youngsters. This is entirely deliberate.

Southgate also declared he wanted a team "that excites the public, that the supporters like watching and are proud of".

A competitive record of 44 wins, 14 draws and 10 defeats in 68 games gives him a winning record of 64.7 per cent. Of England managers with more than one game in charge, that is second only to Fabio Capello's 66.7 per cent (42 games, 28 wins, eight draws, six defeats). World Cup winner Ramsey achieved a 61.1 per cent win record from 113 games.

Southgate has explored his options and given debuts to 50 players, the most since Bobby Robson, who handed first caps to 64 players during his eight-year tenure.

Of the debutants under Southgate, Jordan Pickford has played the most games (42), followed by Maguire (41), Kieran Trippier (35) and Jesse Lingard (32). There have been 14 players who have won just one cap to date in the Southgate era, but among those are a number of players who might realistically expect to win plenty more, such as Harvey Barnes, Nathaniel Chalobah, Conor Gallagher, Mason Greenwood, Dean Henderson, James Maddison and Aaron Ramsdale.

Others seem likelier to go down as one-cap wonders, such as Dominic Solanke, Nathan Redmond, Jack Cork and Lewis Cook. But Southgate has rewarded players in form, cultivating an open-door policy within the England camp that can only be healthy.

Twenty of the debutants have been aged 21 or under, with the youngest being Borussia Dortmund livewire Jude Bellingham, who was 17 years and 136 days old when he featured against the Republic of Ireland in November 2020.

In total, Southgate has capped 83 players to date. There should be many more to come, with the manager recently signing a contract extension through to 2024

Kane, who made his debut under Hodgson, has made more appearances than any other player (50) and scored the most goals (43) during the Southgate era.

 

"Can we not knock it?"

That was the famous remark caught by documentary film-makers as Graham Taylor spluttered in frustration in the dugout at an England attack breaking down all too easily.

The game was a World Cup qualifier in 1993 against Poland, with David Bardsley lifting a long pass hopefully towards Teddy Sheringham, who could not nod the ball down into the path of Carlton Palmer. Taylor could not contain himself.

England's tactics were all too obvious then, subtlety not their strength, with overseas influences yet to seriously permeate the domestic leagues.

There has been progress in the years since, but even when Southgate came in, he felt England were too narrow-minded in some respects, saying he needed "to broaden the horizons" of his players.

"Because the lads see one league... they think we're the centre of the Earth and we're not," Southgate said. "That's what hit me. Other countries are quite happy to say nice things to us and then they pack us off home at a certain stage [of a tournament] and think, 'Good, we've got rid of them'. That's how it feels to me and I don't like it."

England perhaps still have some catching up to do, but Southgate is shifting the culture significantly.

This can be examined through the prism of World Cup qualifiers – Southgate's first campaign leading up to the 2018 tournament, and his latest, which saw England ease into the hat for next year's finals. In both campaigns, England played 10 games, winning eight times and drawing twice.

England are steadily learning to keep the ball and be patient, moving from 195 sequences of 10-plus passes in the 2018 qualifying campaign to 268 for the 2022 preliminaries, putting them second only to Germany among European teams, albeit Spain (253) in third place played just eight games.

They are achieving more high turnovers too, going from 82 in 2018 World Cup qualifying to 111 in their quest to reach Qatar 2022. In that aspect, England have jumped from ninth to third in Europe.

Hodgson's Euro 2016 squad contained players plucked exclusively from the Premier League, with his 23-man group including stars from 11 clubs.

Southgate's 26-strong Euro 2020 party contained representatives of 16 teams, including Trippier from Atletico Madrid and Bellingham and Jadon Sancho of Borussia Dortmund. Gone, for now, are the days of England squads being dominated by players from a small group of clubs.

 

Making Dyke's vision a reality

The acid test comes at major tournament level, and to date Southgate's England are showing up on the big stage – at least until it comes to the crunch. They stood widely accused in both the Croatia semi-final and the Italy final of retreating into their shell, having taken the lead early in each game and then failed to build on the strong start.

That is something Southgate must address and surely will. This is a technically gifted England now, with a coach who has brought more sophistication to the role than many expected.

All that being said, there are still aspects of England's play that perhaps hark back to bygone days. They played 391 long passes at Euro 2020, more than any other side, although this should not be a serious concern given that was only marginally more than champions Italy (363), and semi-finalists Denmark (340) and Spain (339) were not lagging far behind.

Old habits die hard though and England remain the kings of the 'launch' – defined by Opta as "a long high ball into space or into an area for players to chase or challenge for the ball".

They hit 125 of these in the Euros, with the Czech Republic next on the list with 96. Just 27 of England's launches were judged to be successful, and Southgate may reflect on the fact Italy played just 52 such hit-and-hopes on their way to the title.

There is always learning to be done, advances to be achieved. Such data will be monitored by England, with a view to sculpting a winning tactical model in time for next November.

"I like Gareth Southgate, he's a great lad, but what's he done?" was Harry Redknapp's question five years ago.

Turns out, rather a lot in a short space of time. The tanker has turned.

Joe Root believes that England's four-day warm-up game against England Lions in Brisbane provides his side with an opportunity to get ahead of Australia in their Ashes preparations.

Jos Buttler, Mark Wood, Jonny Bairstow, Dawid Malan and Chris Woakes are finally available to participate again after 14 days in quarantine following their involvement in the T20 World Cup.

Australia's preparations have hardly been smooth. Six players in their squad were involved in the T20 World Cup success in the United Arab Emirates, while Tim Paine resigned as captain due to a sexting scandal before subsequently taking an indefinite break from cricket, meaning he is out of the series.

Pat Cummins, one of the players to lead Australia to glory in the shortest format earlier this month, has taken over as captain.

While poor weather conditions cut England's initial three-day practice match short, Root is hoping a high-intensity meeting with the Lions will set the tone for the Test series, which begins in Brisbane on December 8.

"There's a lot of people that will want to prove things, and will want to show that they deserve an opportunity for that first Test match," Root told reporters.

"This is a really good chance for us to get ahead of things, maybe get ahead of Australia in terms of preparation and game-time ahead of the series, and it would be silly for us to just cosy our way through the four days.

"It's been unusual. Having spent a period of time in quarantine and training within that quarantine phase, and then coming to Brisbane.

"We haven't had that three-day game, as we would have liked, but it was always going to be the case that tomorrow was really the first day as a squad that we would get together, with those World Cup guys joining us.

"So we always knew that this next phase was going to be the most crucial part, in terms of getting tight, getting clear and readying ourselves, and that's going to be the real test for us.

"We want that intensity to be as high as we can, as close to the Test matches as we can, and I expect it to be very competitive," Root added.

"The quality of the players will be there from both teams and, because of the lack of preparation that we've had in that previous three-day game, having that extra bit of flexibility to make sure we can get as many guys what they need throughout these four days is going to be crucial.

"But whether you play those games in your mind a little bit more, visualise a little bit more, it's really important you find different ways of making sure that, when that first ball comes down at the Gabba, we're in the best place possible."

England are looking to regain the urn after a drawn series in 2019 saw Australia retain the Ashes for the first time since 2002-03.

England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chief Tom Harrison said it felt like "an earthquake" had hit the English game following the allegations of institutional racism within the sport.

Over recent weeks, Yorkshire's dismal handling of Azeem Rafiq's allegations of racism have brought cricket under the spotlight.

The ECB were also criticised by Rafiq, who told Sky Sports: "the ECB know they messed up."

In the first media briefing since last week's select committee hearing at Westminster, ECB chief executive Harrison said: "It feels like an earthquake has hit us.

"The last few weeks have been very, very tough for cricket. Our game has been portrayed in the worst possible way in the world's media, and testimony from others has revealed serious issues which we've collectively not dealt with as a game for many decades, as well as more recently."

Harrison's appearance in front of the media came as the ECB released its action plan to tackle racism within cricket.

The ECB's plan was split into five main aims: understanding and educating more; addressing dressing-room culture; removing barriers in talent pathways; creating welcoming environments for all, and publishing localised action plans on a six-month deadline.

Each heading has several sub-aims, including a vow to have "a standardised approach to reporting, investigating, and responding to complaints, allegations, and whistleblowing across the game" instilled within three months. 

The ECB also promised to hold "a full review of dressing-room culture in all mens' and women's professional teams, both domestic and international."

A review of governance and regulation in cricket to identify any opportunities to strengthen the structures and processes across the game will also be carried out, while the ECB pledged £25million of strategic funding over five years in support of Ethnicity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) actions.

A new anti-discrimination unit will be established within six months, as well as the immediate inclusion of EDI minimum standards. These standards will be upheld by a direct link to funding, with any central distributions able to be withheld if necessary.

Barry O'Brien, ECB Interim Chair, said: "This is a critical moment for cricket. At the all-game meeting last week, we agreed with one voice on the need to act decisively. 

"Whilst change is required urgently, we also recognise that sustained action and improvements will be required over months and years if we are to become the most welcoming and diverse sport in the country. We begin today and will hold ourselves to account at each step of the way."

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."

Michael Vaughan has been stood down from the BBC's coverage of the Ashes due to "a conflict of interest" amid recent allegations of racism made by ex-Yorkshire team-mate Azeem Rafiq.

The former England captain was this month named in a report investigating Rafiq's claims of institutional racism at Yorkshire.

Vaughan, who played for Yorkshire from 1993 to 2009 and led England to Ashes glory in 2005, allegedly said to a group of Asian team-mates there were "too many of you lot, we need to do something about it".

Rafiq's version of events have been supported by Adil Rashid and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, but Vaughan has strongly denied the allegations made against him.

The BBC withdrew Vaughan from his Radio 5 Live show three weeks ago and the corporation has now confirmed the 47-year-old – who first joined their radio team as a summariser in 2009 – will not form part of their upcoming Ashes coverage.

"While he is involved in a significant story in cricket, for editorial reasons we do not believe that it would be appropriate for Michael Vaughan to have a role in our Ashes team or wider coverage of the sport at the moment," said a BBC statement.

"We require our contributors to talk about relevant topics and his involvement in the Yorkshire story represents a conflict of interest."

Vaughan is also contracted to commentate for Australia's Fox network for the five-Test series, which begins in Brisbane on December 8.

In a statement made earlier this month, Vaughan said: "I categorically deny saying the words attributed to me by Azeem Rafiq and want to restate this publicly because the 'you lot' comment simply never happened.

"It is extremely upsetting that this completely false accusation has been made against me by a former team-mate, apparently supported by two other players.

"I have been in contact with the six other players from that team and not one of them has any recollection of the remark being made."

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."

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