Marcus Harris, an Australia batsman, is confident that Tim Paine has the support of all the players, saying that the former Test skipper and head coach Justin Langer are yet to address the squad.
Marcus Harris also revealed that the playing group found out about Tim Paine’s decision to step down just 30 minutes before he faced in the media on Friday.
Marcus Harris: News About Tim Paine’s Scandal Was A Shock
“There wasn’t much time to digest it, but it was a shock,” Harris told reporters on Wednesday.
“Tim’s obviously been a greater leader around the group, he’s always been really good to me and my family – our hearts went out for Tim, and Bonnie, and the kids and his family. As long as it’s COVID-safe I’ll give him a hug,” he added.
Tim Paine stepped down as Australia’s Test skipper on Friday after it emerged that he had sent an unsolicited explicit image of himself along with a string of lewd messages to a female co-worker in 2017, months before he was made captain, following the Sandpaper Gate scandal where then skipper Steve Smith was axed for a year.
Steve Smith, his deputy David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were banned by Cricket Australia (CA) for different duration, not exceeding one year, over their role in the ball-tampering episode — also termed Sandpaper-gate scandal — in the 2018 Test series in South Africa.
“He’s done a really good job in the last few years, under tough circumstances. You’d probably still argue that he’s still the best gloveman in the country, and he still played some really important innings last summer against India. I know he’s got the support of all the players,” said Harris, who has played all his 10 Tests under Paine’s captaincy.
The Test opener said the players have reached out to the wicketkeeper individually, but Justin Langer and Tim Paine haven’t addressed the squad directly. Marcus Harris, who has played all of his 10 Test matches under the leadership of Tim Paine, said that he has the support of all players and also mentioned that he personally messaged him.
“Probably everyone’s spoken to him personally, I sent him a message the other day and spoke to him a little bit. Obviously Painey’s a very popular member of the group.”
In September, Tim Paine, who had gone under the knife to fix a bulging disc in his neck, is the only stumper in Australia’s 15-player squad for the Ashes, which was announced before he stepped down. The development comes weeks ahead of the five-Test Ashes series against traditional rivals England. The first Test begins in Brisbane on December 8.
Marcus Harris: Australia Have Got Leaders In The Group
Marcus Harris is confident there are several players in the squad who can step up and lead the side.
“People were a bit shocked, but we’ve got leaders around our group – so it’s not ideal, but someone’s going to have to step up and lead from the front and there’s plenty of people who can do that job.”
Tim Paine is expected to play an intra-squad match, starting December 1, but they’re still isn’t clear if he will be included in the playing XI after the recent developments.
Cricket Australia is yet to name a successor for Tim Paine, but senior pace bowler Pat Cummins and swashbuckling batter Steve Smith remain the front-runners for the post. Marcus Harris said Australia has many potential leaders in the team to take over the captaincy from Tim Paine. Marnus Labuschagne revealed his captaincy ambitions just this week but is yet to lead his state and has played only 18 Tests.