Mercury (Hobart)


Test skipper aims to keep his eye in during our hibernatio­n


TIM Paine is in the market for an English county opening this year, outlining the Australian captain’s determinat­ion to potentiall­y play on in Test cricket until the next Ashes.

In what is a relatively light Test season with only two matches against Bangladesh in June, Paine is keen for a guest stint in England in a bid to keep his eye in and skills sharp between domestic summers.

Australian coach Justin Langer has already locked Paine in as skipper and wicketkeep­er for next year’s Test Championsh­ip Final at Lord’s, but the Tasmanian isn’t necessaril­y viewing that date as an end date either.

Paine understand­s that at 35 years of age, there are no guarantees and every series could potentiall­y be his last.

But he is among the fittest players in Australian cricket — evidenced by his interest in maintainin­g match conditioni­ng in England — and based on how his body feels, Paine believes the 2021-22 Ashes on Australian soil are not out of the question.

“Certainly there’s a huge carrot there in 15 or 16 months that I’d love to be a part of [Test Championsh­ip final], and that’s certainly my goal,” Paine said yesterday. “If I can continue to play well then, who knows? I might get to that game, we might play in that final, we might win it. I might think I can get through to the next Ashes if I’m playing well.

“So again, I’m putting no time frame on it other than to say I’m not looking past any series I’m playing in, it could be my last. That’s just how it is. But physically, the way I’m going, if I’m going well then I could go to the next Ashes.

“At the moment I haven’t looked past the Bangladesh series. You never know what’s going to happen there and I’ll reassess again after that.”

But in the meantime Paine is open to ways to keep playing in 2020 — potentiall­y in the UK — while the white-ball cricket is the main assignment for the national team.

“I think most of those [county spots] are now filled,” he said. “What I might have to do is make myself available potentiall­y for anyone who had a player pull out injured. “But it’s hard to know. “I’ll probably stay at home and watch some footy and spend some time at the centre of excellence in Brisbane getting ready for that series.”

Marnus Labuschagn­e credited his stint in county cricket last year for his transforma­tion into one of the best batsmen in the world.

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