Australia skipper Tim Paine is set to undergo neck surgery but medical staff remain confident the veteran will be fit for the Ashes.
- Tim Paine has a bulging disc that has caused him pain in his neck and left arm
- Paine says he will be “ready to go by the first Test” against England, which begins December 8
- The Test captain is likely to miss most of Tasmania’s pre-Ashes Sheffield Shield games
Paine was slated to start his Sheffield Shield campaign on September 28, when Tasmania face Queensland in Brisbane.
The wicketkeeper is instead expected to be sidelined in the early stages of the domestic season.
Paine has a bulging disc that has been causing him pain in his neck and left arm, and the injury has not responded to treatment.
The Australian team is upbeat Paine will be cleared to resume training by the end of this month, and that he may be able to squeeze in at least one Shield game before linking up with the Test squad.
“The consensus of the spinal surgeon and the CA (Cricket Australia) medical team was to have the surgery now which will allow plenty of time to fully prepare for the 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.
The Ashes are slated to start on December 8, giving the 36-year-old plenty of time to prove his fitness for the Gabba series opener.
But any form of setback could cast doubt on Paine’s prospects of facing England.
Paine, who required seven rounds of surgery to repair a recurring finger injury that started in 2010 and threatened to end his career, has demonstrated plenty of stoicism in recent years.
But CA said after consultation with a spinal surgeon in Hobart, surgery was required “to relieve the pressure on the [pinched] nerve”.
Paine and teammates have not played a Test since suffering an unforgettable loss to India at the Gabba in January.
Australia are scheduled to host Afghanistan in a one-off Test, starting November 27 in Hobart, but that match is set to be scrapped because the Taliban’s stance regarding women’s sport.
CA is likely to schedule an alternate Ashes tune-up but it remains unclear whether it will be an intra-squad contest, tour game involving England, or replacement Test.