Paine backed by teammates for Ashes spot
Australia’s Test cricketers were shocked to learn of Tim Paine’s resignation from the captaincy over a text message scandal but are behind him to continue as wicketkeeper for the Ashes, Marcus Harris has said.
The opening batsman Harris said players only became aware of Paine’s decision half an hour before he went public last Friday to reveal he had been investigated over messages sent to a colleague four years ago.
“People were obviously a bit shocked but we’ve got a lot of good leaders around our group,” Harris said. “So 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.”
Paine, who has been playing in Tasmania this week while other Test players are on the Gold Coast, is the only specialist wicketkeeper in Australia’s 15-man Ashes squad.
However, the chairman of selectors George Bailey has confirmed he is not guaranteed to play in the first Test, starting in Brisbane on 8 December, while he races to prove himself match fit after neck surgery.
Harris said Paine was very popular among the playing group, had done a “really good job” under tough circumstances over the last few years and deserved to keep his place.
“I think you’d probably still argue that he’s still the best gloveman in the country and he still played a few important innings last summer against India,” he said.
Cricket Australia’s handling of the scandal has triggered recriminations, with Cricket Tasmania accusing the national body of hanging the wicketkeeper out to dry having cleared him of any wrongdoing in 2018.
The Sydney Morning Herald yesterday reported players were also unhappy with Cricket Australia’s treatment of Paine, but Harris said he was unaware of any rift.