Three days after resigning as Australia’s Test captain, Tim Paine makes his return to playing as he bids to be part of the upcoming Ashes series.
The Tasmania 2nd XI match against South Australia, at Lindisfarne Memorial Park in Hobart, will likely attract significantly more interest than would normally be the case. This fixture had been part of Paine’s comeback plan from neck surgery before the drama of last week – his initial return in a club game at the weekend was washed out – and will be his first game since early April.
He will have the keeping gloves on initially with Tasmania bowling first. Away from the fallout of the text message scandal, there is a form and fitness debate for Paine to answer – especially now he is back in the ranks as a player.
The Cricket Australia board said they were satisfied for Paine to remain available for selection and he has insisted he wants to be part of the England series. The Ashes had been viewed as a potential end-point for Paine’s Test career before the latest developments.
“I see that as the ultimate high, to be able to finish your Test career after winning an Ashes series in Australia,” Paine said in an interview with the Herald Sun. “That’s the dream. That’s what I want to do.”
Todd Greenberg, the chief executive of the Australian Cricketers’ Association, said that Paine’s availability for the Ashes was a key part of the negotiations that took place ahead of him standing down. In a statement on Friday, the ACA had expressed their disappointment that Paine had felt the need to stand down as captain.
“We think he must be available for selection, then ultimately that’s an issue for the selectors,” Greenberg told SEN radio. “That was made clear to him and to us by Cricket Australia last week. I hope he is picked, and he plays an incredibly strong Ashes series.”
If Paine was unable to get through the fitness side of his comeback following the disc surgery he had in September, Alex Carey would be the likely replacement in the Test side. Carey is part of the Australia A squad which will also be in Brisbane alongside Josh Inglis.
When the Ashes squad was named on Wednesday morning, Paine was the only keeper named in the main 15-player squad even though the timelimes that emerged around his resignation suggested the situation was likely well advanced at that stage.
Following the 2nd XI match, Paine is due to link up with the Australia squad in Queensland ahead of the intrasquad match which starts on December 1 and will provide the final preparation for the first Test at the Gabba.
Tim PaineTasmaniaAustraliaThe Ashes
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo