Australia's Paine takes indefinite 'mental health break'

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Tim Paine has stepped away from cricket for an "indefinite mental health break", leaving Australia's Ashes preparations up in the air a week after the wicketkeeper's resignation from the captaincy.

Paine, replaced as captain by Pat Cummins on Friday, was due to play for Tasmania in a domestic match in Hobart in the lead up to the Ashes opener in Brisbane on December 8, but is now unavailable for the "foreseeable future", the state's cricket association said.

Speculation over Paine's place in the Test team has been rife since he resigned over revelations he had been investigated for sending explicit text messages to a female former Cricket Tasmania (CT) staffer four years ago.

"Confirming that @tdpaine36 is stepping away from cricket for an indefinite mental health break," Paine's manager James Henderson wrote in a social media post.

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

Paine, who married Bonnie in 2016 and has children with her, was cleared after a 2018 probe by CT and national board Cricket Australia (CA) but stepped down last Friday, saying he did not want his captaincy to be a distraction during the Ashes.

News of Paine's break from cricket overshadowed the confirmation of Cummins as the Test team's 47th captain and Steve Smith as vice-captain.

Fast bowler Cummins spoke to Paine early on Friday and told reporters it was too soon to speculate whether he might be seen in Test whites again, let alone feature in the Ashes.

"Chatting to him, he's thinking a couple of days at a time," Cummins said in a video conference from the team hotel on the Gold Coast.

"We'll give him as much time as needed. We would absolutely welcome him back into the team but at the moment, that's obviously not front and centre for him."

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