Tim Paine is in better shape than ever and in a good mental position, according to the coach of quality cricket team Hobart for whom the former Australian Test captain will return to action.
Around 18 months after his last first-class appearance, Paine will take the field for the University of Tasmania against New Town in Kingston on Sunday in a 50-time Premier League game.
The 37-year-old wicketkeeper walked away from the sport ahead of the 2021 Ashes series against England when a sexting scandal from late 2017 became public knowledge.
“He’s looking forward to playing and we’re excited to have him back,” Damien Wright, coach of the University, Paine’s junior club, told AAP. “He’s as fit as he’s ever been. Mentally, he is also very well placed. By all reports, he coached the house.
“I see him quite regularly. He knows there’s a bit of hype around it. It’s a great story – he still has a lot of cricket in him, we think.
Paine has been training with the Tasmanian Tigers side for the past few months as an out-of-contract player, with manager Jeff Vaughan indicating he is up for selection in the Sheffield Shield.
The Tigers open their Shield season against Queensland on October 6.
Wright, who played 123 top-class games in a career that included Shield success with Tasmania, believes Paine will eventually make a comeback for the Tigers.
“If he is available and ready to play, you would have him in the team. It will only give the team… the experience and the passion he had for Tasmanian cricket,” Wright said. “I believe it will happen.”
Fellow Tasmanian and former Test captain Ricky Ponting, head of strategy for Hobart Hurricanes, has openly stated his desire for Paine to run for the BBL franchise again.
The Hurricanes have an empty spot on their roster. Paine quit as test captain after admitting involvement in a lewd text exchange with a Cricket Tasmania employee.
Cricket Australia investigated at the time and cleared him of any wrongdoing.