Former Australian Test captain Tim Paine made a huge statement on Monday, as he returned to competitive cricket, taking six catches behind the stumps playing for Tasmania second XI at the Lindisfarne Oval, indicating that he has recovered fully from the invasive neck surgery the wicketkeeper-batter underwent in September.
Paine, who stepped down as Australia’s Test captain following a sexting scandal less than three weeks before the Ashes, had undergone neck surgery in mid-September to set right a bulging disc that had been causing him discomfort in his left arm and neck.
While Paine, 37, has stepped down as captain, he has made himself available for selection in the Ashes side. On Monday, he played a full day of competitive cricket against South Australia second XI.
Paine looked at ease behind the stumps taking several low catches on both sides as South Australia were bowled out for 165, with Tasmania 58 for one at stumps. Paine will bat for Tasmania if required on Tuesday.
Cricket Australia’s national selector George Bailey was in attendance during the match. Paine had relinquished Australia’s Test captaincy in a bombshell announcement on November 19, which had shaken the Australian cricket establishment to the core. In a hurriedly organised press conference in Hobart, a tearful Paine had announced he was quitting after an off-field scandal was reportedly unearthed.