By Ian Ransom
MELBOURNE (Reuters) Australias test cricketers were shocked to learn of Tim Paines’ sacking from the captaincy over a sexting scandal but are fully behind him to continue as wicketkeeper for Ashes, said batter Marcus Harris.
Opener Harris said players only became aware of Paine’s decision half an hour before he went public last Friday to reveal that he had been under investigation four years ago over obscene text messages sent to a female cricketer. Tasmania staffer had been sent.
People were obviously a little shocked, but we have a lot of good leaders around our group, Harris told reporters on Wednesday.
So it’s not ideal, but someone will have to stand up and lead from the front.
Painey will still be there and can still show leadership in many different ways, but was looking forward to getting into the camp and carrying on with it.
Paine, who this week has played a domestic match in Tasmania while other test players are on the Gold Coast, is the only specialist wicketkeeper in Australias 15th Axis man squad.
However, Selectors chairman George Bailey has confirmed he is not locked out for the first test starting in Brisbane on December 8, as he races to prove he is match-fit after neck surgery.
Harris said Paine was very popular among the squad, that he had done a really good job in difficult circumstances in recent years and deserved to keep his place on the side.
I think you’d probably still argue that he’s still the best gloveman in the country and that he played a couple more important innings against India last summer, he said.
I know he has all the support from the players and like I said, all those other things are up to people above me.
Paine’s resignation and Cricket Australia’s handling of the sexting scandal have led to allegations, with Cricket Tasmania accusing the national body of hanging the wicketkeeper after clearing him of any wrongdoing in 2018.
The Sydney Morning Herald on Wednesday reported that players were also unhappy with Cricket Australias’ treatment of Paine, but Harris said he was not aware of any breach.
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; editing by Peter Rutherford)
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