Former Australian Test captain Tim Paine will make his long-awaited return to cricket this weekend, representing University of Tasmania in the Cricket Tasmania Premier League.
As reported by The Mercury’s Ryan Rosendale, University coach Damien Wright confirmed the 37-year-old wicketkeeper will play in Sunday’s match against New Town.
It will mark Paine’s first cricket match since last November’s four-day contest between the Tasmanian second XI and South Australia second XI at Hobart’s Lindisfarne Oval.
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Paine stood down from the Test captaincy last year after it was revealed he sent sexually explicit messages to a former Cricket Tasmania employee in November 2017.
He had previously been investigated and cleared of any wrongdoing by Cricket Australia.
Paine stepped away from the sport to focus on his mental wellbeing soon after, with Australian bowler Pat Cummins replacing him as Test skipper.
Cricket Tasmania did not include Paine on its contract list for the 2022/23 summer, but the veteran gloveman joined the Tigers’ pre-season training ahead of the Sheffield Shield, which gets underway in early October.
“(Paine) 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,” Tasmania coach Jeff Vaughan told ESPNcricinfo this week.
“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 represented Australia in 35 Test matches between 2010 and 2021, claiming 150 catches and seven stumpings with the gloves.
The right-hander scored 1534 Test runs at an average of 32.63, including nine fifties and a career-best of 92 against India in 2010.
He led his country in 23 Tests following the Cape Town ball-tampering saga in 2018, later becoming the first Australian captain to retain the Ashes on foreign soil since Steve Waugh in 2001.
Speaking at the Chappell Foundation’s annual dinner in July, Cummins threw his support behind the former Test skipper.
“I know us players certainly won’t forget him,” he said.
“He’s brought the Ashes back from a series over in England, that’s huge. That hasn’t been done for 20 years.
“So, I think someone like Painey, firstly as a mate, you just want to make sure he’s OK.
“Again, honest mistakes. I felt like he did the wrong thing, but he tried to fix the situation as best as he could.
“You know, these are personal things, everyone has them. I personally didn’t think it was a huge deal and I really feel for him.”