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Tim Paine backed to 'show leadership in many different ways'

Marcus Harris said that Paine remains the best wicketkeeper in the country

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
Tim Paine can still be a leader in the Australian team despite losing the Test captaincy, although there was shock at the dramatic developments late last week which sent their Ashes planning into a tailspin.
Paine remains available for selection with every indication he will be included in the first Test at the Gabba providing he comes through his return-to-play following neck surgery. He is currently part of a 2nd XI match against South Australia and will then have the intrasquad Australia vs Australia A contest in Brisbane.
Pat Cummins is expected to be installed as the new Test captain in the coming days, although the identity of his vice-captain will also be significant with Steven Smith in the running for that role. However, even though Paine won't have an official leadership position, it appears his experience will continue to be highly sought after.
"People were a bit shocked [but] we've got a lot of good leaders around our group," Marcus Harris, the first member of the Australia team to speak since Paine's resignation, said. "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 that can do that job. Painey will still be around and can still show leadership in many different ways. We're looking forward to getting into camp and get on with it.
"Tim's obviously been a great leader around the group. He's always been really good to me and my family," Harris added. "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."
Without the captaincy, there has been debate around whether Paine remains the best wicketkeeper-batter option for the Test side with pressure from the uncapped Alex Carey and Josh Inglis who are in the Australia A squad. However, questions over his batting output have arguably been overplayed - in the last two home seasons he has averaged 37.00 - with his overall numbers comparable to Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow
"You'd probably still argue that he's still the best gloveman in the country," Harris said. "And he still played some really important innings last summer against India. I know he's got the support of all the players. 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."
Paine has been given the backing of the Australian Cricketers' Association, who said they did not believe he should have had to resign over the messages given he was cleared of a code of conduct breach in 2018. His state, Tasmania, put out a withering statement on Tuesday condemning how he had been treated by Cricket Australia.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo