Test teammates rally in support for Paine

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Ace batsman Marnus Labuschagne is among the Australian cricketers to reach out to ex-Test captain Tim Paine with messages of love and support.

Teammates are rallying around Paine, who quit the Test captaincy amid revelations of a sexting episode in 2017.

While Test opener Marcus Harris admits he was stunned to hear Paine was stepping down, Labuschagne wants to keep his conversations with the wicketkeeper private.

"Absolutely I have (reached out)," Labuschagne said in Adelaide on Wednesday.

"I am not going to comment on that. Everyone is aware of everything.

"I'm a close friend of Tim and I love and support him so I hope everything is going well for him."

Cricket Australia (CA) is set to name Pat Cummins as new Test captain by the end of this week but uncertainty still clouds whether Paine will retain his place in the Test XI.

Paine returned from neck surgery this week as part of Tasmania's second XI.

He scored one run but proved typically tidy with the gloves, taking nine catches in a low-key return, and may bat again on Thursday.

Paine is expected to play an intra-squad match against Test teammates in Brisbane from December 1, with the five-Test series against England starting at the Gabba a week later.

Opening bat Harris believes Paine will be welcomed back with open arms by his Test teammates when they converge in Queensland.

"Tim's obviously been a great leader around the group. He's always been really good to me and my family," Harris told reporters in a teleconference on Wednesday.

"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."

Australian legend Ricky Ponting told cricket.com.au that Paine will "get asked about it everywhere he goes" and the scandal is "not going to go away".

CA's appointment of Cummins as Test captain could come as early as Friday.

Ex-skipper Steve Smith, who relinquished the captaincy in the wake of the 2018 ball-tampering scandal, is expected to be named vice-captain.

Labuschagne has been touted as a potential future Test captain or vice-captain.

"I have certainly heard that sort of speculation," Labuschagne said.

"My job currently in the Australian team is to score runs and be Australia's No. 3 and make sure I pile on the runs.

"If that sort of (leadership) opportunity comes down the track, who knows, but that is not where my focus is.

"My focus is to help Queensland and Australia win games and I think there's two other candidates there that are well equipped for the job."

Harris, whose 10 Tests have come under Paine's leadership, said "people were a bit shocked" at his sudden resignation as Test skipper.

"There wasn't much time to digest it," Harris said.

"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."

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