Vodafone Men's Ashes
Players to welcome Paine into pre-Ashes camp
Opener Marcus Harris says the former skipper can still be a leader around the team as the countdown to the Ashes continues
24 November 2021, 02:51 PM AEST
Tim Paine is set to be welcomed back with open arms by Test teammates, with opener Marcus Harris saying the veteran is still the best wicketkeeper in Australia.
Harris says he was stunned to hear on Friday that Paine was to step down as men's Test captain amid revelations of a sexting episode in 2017, with the playing group informed of the decision just 30 minutes before Paine faced the media in Hobart.
Cricket Australia (CA) is hoping to name a new skipper by the end of this week, but uncertainty still clouds whether Paine will retain his place in the Test XI despite being the only wicketkeeper in Australia's 15-player squad, which was announced before Paine stood down.
The wicketkeeper returned from neck surgery this week as part of Tasmania's second XI in Hobart, scoring one with the bat in the first innings and proving typically tidy with the gloves.
Paine is expected to play an intra-squad match against Test teammates in Brisbane that starts on December 1, with selectors yet to give any firm indication whether or not he will play at the Gabba.
Alex Carey and Josh Inglis, who have picked for Australia A, will also be part of the pre-Ashes camp.
Harris, whose entire 10-Test career has come under Paine's captaincy, is one of several players who want to walk out alongside the Tasmanian at the Gabba on December 8.
"Tim's obviously been a great leader around the group. He's always been really good to me and my family," Harris said.
"Our hearts went out to Tim and (wife) Bonnie, the kids and his family.
"Knowing Painey and his character, he's a pretty strong and resilient bloke. If anyone can get through it, I'm backing Painey to.
"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."
Paine is yet to address the Test squad since stepping down, but Harris and several teammates have spoken with him.
The incumbent opener added the keeper can still remain a leader despite dropping the official title.
"Painey is a very popular member of the group," Harris said.
"People were a bit shocked.
"There wasn't much time to digest it.
"We're looking forward to him getting up here in the next week or so.
"And getting on with cricket. When you have things going on, sometimes the best thing to do is actually be out in the middle."
"Painey will still be around and can still show leadership in many different ways."
Vodafone Men's Ashes v England
Nov 23-25: England v England Lions, Brisbane
Nov 30 – Dec 3: England v England Lions, Brisbane
Dec 1-3: Australian intra-squad match, Brisbane
Dec 9-12: Australia A v England Lions, Brisbane
First Test: December 8-12, The Gabba
Second Test: December 16-20, Adelaide Oval
Third Test: December 26-30, MCG
Fourth Test: January 5-9, SCG
Fifth Test: January 14-18, Perth Stadium