Former Australian captain Tim Paine could make a surprise return to first class cricket next week when Tasmania plays its first Sheffield Shield game.
Paine has not played any cricket since his resignation as Test captain in November 2021 amid a sexting scandal after which he took an extended break from the game.
His last first-class match was in April 2021, but the 37-year-old rejoined Tasmania during pre-season having confirmed to new coach Jeff Vaughan that he wanted to resume playing.
Paine was overlooked for Wednesday’s opening one-day match of the summer against South Australian, but Vaughan revealed the former skipper was “up for selection” for the opening Shield match against Queensland that begins next Thursday in Brisbane.
“That one sort of popped up from nowhere to be honest. He came and spoke to the CEO and myself one day and said he‘d like to come back and he’s certainly going to play cricket for University,” Vaughan told ESPNcricinfo.
“So he’s been training with us most sessions the last five or six weeks. Physically, (he’s) going well, emotionally going well. I’m sure everyone would agree that we trust his wicketkeeping skill set, his leadership skill set, so he’s up for selection.
“Like any of our contracted players and like any of our players in Tasmanian premier cricket, he‘s up for selection and one we will certainly speak about.”
Paine has been training with the Tasmanian squad since mid-August and looks set to take his first steps towards a first-class return by playing grade cricket for University of Tasmania in the first round of Tasmania’s Premier League competition this weekend.