Aussie cricket legend says the door is open for Tim Paine to play in the Big Bash League with the DISGRACED former Test skipper to return to grade cricket tomorrow
- Paine stood down as a player and captain of Australia ahead of the 2021 Ashes
- He was accused of sexting a Cricket Tasmania employee while married
- Cricket Australia investigated the incident and cleared him of any wrongdoing
- Now Paine is set to end an 18-month cricket exile and return to grade cricket
- Ricky Ponting will be watching and a place in the Hobart Hurricanes could be his
Aussie Test cricket champion Ricky Ponting is keen to have Tim Paine return to the Big Bash League for Hobart this season with the disgraced former Test skipper to return to grade cricket tomorrow.
Paine has not played any cricket since the married 37-year-old stood down from the Test captaincy 18 months ago after allegations of sending explicit texts, including a picture of his genitals, to a female co-worker at Cricket Tasmania.
The wicketkeeper walked away from the sport in the lead-up to the 2021 Ashes series against England when the sexting scandal dating back to late 2017 became public.
Paine speaks to the media during a press conference at Bellerive Oval in Hobart, Tasmania where he broke down when announcing he would be standing down as captain and as a player
Cricket Australia investigated at the time and cleared him of wrongdoing.
Paine will take the field for University of Tasmania against New Town at Kingston on Sunday in a premier league 50-over game.
The Hobart Hurricanes have one spot left in their squad and fellow Tasmanian and former Test captain Ricky Ponting, head of strategy for Hobart Hurricanes, has openly stated his desire for Paine to again turn out for the BBL franchise.
Paine, and wife Bonnie, look a little worse for wear after a big night out at the wedding of Pat Cummins and Becky Boston in Byron Bay
Ponting was appointed head of strategy at the Hobart Hurricanes in June this year and said at the time Paine perfectly fit his vision to have more Tasmanians represent the BBL franchise.
‘What I’d like to achieve with the Hurricanes would be to bring as many great Tasmanian people back around the franchise as possible,’ Ponting said at the time.
‘I think Tim Paine fits perfectly into that mould. So if he’s ever ready to walk back with the purple shirt on, I’m sure lots of Tasmanians would like to see him involved.’
Ponting will be monitoring Paine’s return to cricket with an eagle eye and University coach Damien Wright said that the former Test wicketkeeper was ready to make his return.
He said Paine is as fit as ever and in a good place mentally
‘He’s looking forward to playing and we’re thrilled to have him back,’ Wright said.
‘He’s as fit as he’s ever been. Mentally, he’s in a really good place as well. From all reports he’s been training the house down.
‘I see him quite regularly. He knows there’s a bit of hype around it. It’s a great story – he’s still got plenty of cricket left in him, we believe.’
Paine and Ponting look on during the Big Bash League (BBL) Challenger Final cricket match between the Melbourne Stars and the Sydney Thunder at the MCG in Melbourne in 2020
Paine has been training with the Tasmanian Tigers squad in recent months as an uncontracted player, with coach Jeff Vaughan indicating he was in the mix for selection in the Sheffield Shield.
The Tigers open their Shield season against Queensland on October 6.
Wright, who played 123 first-class games in a career that included Shield success with Tasmania, believes Paine will end up making a return for the Tigers.
‘If he’s available and ready to play, you’d have him in the team. It’s only going to give the team … the experience and the passion he’s had about Tasmanian cricket,’ Wright said.
‘I do believe it will happen.’
Former Australian Test Captain Tim Paine takes to the field during the Second XI cricket match between Tasmania and South Australia at Lindisfarne Memorial Park in Hobart in 2021
Cricket Tasmania CEO Dom Baker has previously said the door remains open for Paine to return to the state league sides as well, including the Sheffield Shield.
Baker said Paine was a much-loved member of the organisation, and after winning two Shield titles, deserved to be ‘welcomed back into the fold’.
‘It was just great to see him come into my office and request permission to train. He started here as just a 16-year-old all those years ago and has been a part of our cricket ever since,’ he said.
‘He is training as an uncontracted player to get fit for club cricket, but if he proves to be anywhere near his best expect to see him playing state cricket again.’