Marcus Harris has revealed that the Australia Test players were shocked to know Tim Paine's resignation from the captaincy over a 'sexting' scandal, as they only got to learn about his impending resignation half an hour before it was announced to the world.
Last week, Paine stepped down as Australia Test captain, three weeks before the Ashes 2021–22, after he had been investigated over lewd text messages sent to a female staffer at Cricket Tasmania four years ago, and Harris insisted that there is no shortage of leaders in the camp to lead the side.
Extending his support to the embattled Paine, Harris said that the wicket-keeper’s mental character would carry him through the "sexting" saga and that the players were looking forward to seeing the former skipper back in the side for the upcoming Ashes series in the coming days.
The left-hander, who is currently in quarantine in Queensland before the first Ashes Test against England on December 8 in Brisbane, said every Australian team member had reached out to Paine and said that he was still a well-liked and integral part of the national setup.
He also backed Paine to continue as wicketkeeper for the Ashes 2021-22 against England, saying he's still the "best gloveman" in the country while hailing his leadership in the last 2 years.
Harris told reporters, “There wasn't much time to digest it, but it was a shock. People were obviously a bit shocked but we’ve got a lot of good leaders around our group. So it’s not ideal but someone’s going to have to step up and lead from the front.”
The batter further added, “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.”
He further said of the sexting saga, “I think knowing Paine, knowing his character; he's a pretty strong and resilient bloke. So if anyone can get through it I'm backing Paine to be able to get through that. Tim's obviously been a great leader around the group. He's always been really good to me and my family. So you know, our hearts went out for Bonnie (Paine's wife) and the kids and his family.”
The 29-year-old also mentioned that Paine was very popular among the playing group and has done a “really good job” under tough circumstances over the last few years for Australia.
Praising the keeper, Harris said: “He's done a really good job the past few years under tough circumstances. 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. I know he’s got all the support of the players and like I said, all that other stuff is up to people above me.”
He signed off by saying, “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. When you have things going on, sometimes the best thing to do is actually be out in the middle and playing cricket and taking your mind off things.”
(With Reuters/Nine Australia Inputs)