Australia captain Tim Paine to have neck operation but vows to be fit for Ashes


ustralia captain Tim Paine will undergo neck surgery tomorrow, but has vowed to be “ready to go” for the Ashes later this year.

Keeper-bat Paine has suffered a pinched nerve in his neck and hopes to be back in action in November, meaning he misses a good chunk of the early Australian domestic season.

“The consensus of the spinal surgeon and the CA medical team was to have the surgery now which will allow plenty of time to fully prepare for the (Australian) summer,” Paine said.

“I expect to be able to restart physical activity by the end of this month and be back in full training in October. I will be ready to go by the First Test and am very much looking forward to what will be a huge summer.”

Australia are due to play Afghanistan in Paine’s home state, Tasmania, before the Ashes are slated to begin in Brisbane on December 8.

Both events are in doubt, the Afghan Test because of Taliban rule and the series against England because the touring players still do not know what Covid-19 demands will be placed on them by the Australian government.

It is hoped a resolution can be reached by the end of September, although it is likely that several senior England players will withdraw from the tour because of Australia’s inflexible approach to entering the country.

The cancellation of the Fifth Test between England and India on Friday, because the tourists were concerned about Covid in their camp, has provided Australia with a stark reminder of the fragility of international cricket right now.

Paine has a modest Test record. He is yet to score a century in 35 Tests and, while the Aussies retained the Ashes in England under his watch, they botched a golden opportunity to win the series outright at the Kia Oval two years ago (which was the last time Australia played a Test match away from the comfort of home).

He led the clean-up of Australia’s image in the wake of the sandpaper scandal, although the mask did begin to slip when a depleted India side romped to a sensational victory Down Under last year.

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