Disgraced former skipper Tim Paine is set to miss the first Ashes Test and may never represent Australia again, having taken an indefinite mental health break.
Friday’s bombshell, coming a week after Paine tearfully stood down as captain after revelations of a sexting scandal in 2017, is likely to mark the end of the 36-year-old’s international career.
But that is currently the least of Paine’s concerns.
“We are extremely concerned for his and [wife] Bonnie’s well-being and will be making no further comment at this time,” Paine’s manager James Henderson posted on Twitter.
Henderson termed it an “indefinite” break.
Paine’s teammates were desperate for the wicketkeeper to play on December 8, when Australia’s five-Test series against England begins in Brisbane.
As of Thursday, when the veteran was slated to link up with the Test squad this weekend, everything pointed in that direction.
Paine was called up and set to bat at first drop in Tasmania’s one-dayer against Western Australia on Friday, giving him a chance to play five consecutive days of cricket after a low-key return via the state’s second XI.
But Cricket Tasmania (CT) confirmed early on Friday morning Paine would not take his spot in the side.
“Following discussions over the last 24 hours, Tim Paine has advised Cricket Tasmania that he will be taking a leave of absence from all forms of cricket for the foreseeable future,” CT noted in a statement.
“Cricket Tasmania will continue to support Tim and his family both professionally and personally over the summer.”
Alex Carey and Josh Inglis, already set to take part in the intra-squad clash beginning on Wednesday, are the candidates set to vie for a baggy green in Paine’s expected absence at the Gabba.
Nathan Lyon was one of several players to publicly back Paine to play the first Test.
“The selectors said they were going to pick the best available XI. In my eyes, Tim Paine is the best keeper in the world,” Lyon said.