In­jury causes more pain for Aus­tralia

Nelson Mail - - SPORT - JOE PIERIK

Aus­tralia may be down to their third-choice cap­tain when they take on Eng­land in a one-day in­ter­na­tional se­ries in June.

In­jured cap­tain Tim Paine is set to re­sume full train­ing within weeks, but is no guar­an­tee to lead the side through the ODI se­ries. Paine him­self has the top job af­ter Steve Smith was banned from toplevel cricket fol­low­ing the ball­tam­per­ing scan­dal.

Paine suf­fered a hair­line frac­ture of his right thumb while stand­ing up to the stumps to fast bowler Chadd Say­ers on the third day of the fourth test against South Africa in Johannesburg.

Scans con­firmed Paine had hurt the thumb, but he at least es­caped surgery, which could have ruled him out of the one-day se­ries.

Paine knows all about hand surgery, hav­ing had seven op­er­a­tions on his in­dex fin­ger over seven years.

Cricket Aus­tralia said this week Paine would re­sume bat­ting and wick­et­keep­ing within three weeks, with the ODI squad ex­pected to be re­leased early next month.

That tour be­gins with a prac­tice match against Sus­sex on June 1. The tourists will then fea­ture in five one-day in­ter­na­tion­als, the first at The Oval in Lon­don on June 13.

Fast bowler Mitchell Starc re­mains in doubt for the tour, as he is still on the mend from a tib­ial bone stress re­ac­tion in his right leg which ruled out of the fourth test against the Proteas and the In­dian Pre­mier League. Med­i­cal staff will re­view him again in a few weeks.

While Paine is likely to be fit for the tour, it re­mains to be seen if he will cap­tain the side, for he has only been con­firmed as test cap­tain. Cricket Aus­tralia would only say an ODI skip­per will be named when the squad is re­leased.

There is much for team per­for­mance boss Pat Howard and the selec­tors to de­bate, for Aus­tralia has ma­jor se­ries and tour­na­ments in the sport’s three for­mats in the next 18 months.

Paine, 33, has al­ready shown his ap­ti­tude for the top role in the test team, and is seen as hav­ing the right char­ac­ter to help usher in a new cul­ture that will flow from a re­view con­ducted by former test bats­man, Rick McCosker, in wake of the heated se­ries in South Africa which led to the sus­pen­sions of Smith, David Warner and Cameron Ban­croft.

How­ever, the selec­tors may not want to over­bur­den him, and could re­turn to the days when there were sep­a­rate test and ODI cap­tains.

Warner led the Aus­tralian Twenty20 side to a tri-se­ries vic­tory in New Zealand in Fe­bru­ary but is sus­pended and will not be con­sid­ered for a lead­er­ship role in the fu­ture.

Vic­to­rian Aaron Finch, who led the T20 side be­tween 2014 and 2016 and has deputised in one-day in­ter­na­tion­als, would be in the mix for the top job in the white-ball for­mats, with the World Cup in Eng­land next year the ma­jor lure. State cap­tains Mitch Marsh, who has had an­kle surgery, and Travis Head would also be in the mix.

CA has yet to be­gin a for­mal search for a new coach to re­place Dar­ren Lehmann. That role could also be split be­tween red-ball and white-ball cricket. Justin Langer re­mains the favourite for the test po­si­tion, Ja­son Gille­spie will also be in the mix while Ricky Ponting, in charge of the Delhi Dare­dev­ils in the IPL, has been touted as a short-form na­tional coach.

GETTY IM­AGES

Tim Paine led Aus­tralia in the fi­nal test of the South Africa tour af­ter Steve Smith was dropped over the ball tam­per­ing scan­dal.

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