Shepparton News

Paine to have nerve surgery

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Tim Paine insists he will recover from neck surgery in time to captain Australia in the Ashes.

Paine was slated to start his Sheffield Shield campaign on September 28, when Tasmania faces Queensland in Brisbane.

The wicketkeep­er, who today undergoes an operation to repair a pinched nerve in his neck, will instead be sidelined in the early stages of the domestic season.

Australia is upbeat Paine will resume light training by the end of this month.

The veteran is set to be cleared to play in eight to 10 weeks, meaning he may be able to squeeze in at least one Shield game before linking up with the Test squad.

‘‘I will be ready to go by the first Test and am very much looking forward to what will be a huge summer,’’ Paine said in a statement.

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.

However, 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 Cricket Australia (CA) and a spinal surgeon agreed last week that the bulging disc required an operation.

‘‘Which will allow plenty of time to fully prepare for the summer,’’ Paine said.

Paine and teammates haven’t played a Test since suffering an unforgetta­ble loss to India at the Gabba in January.

Australia is scheduled to host Afghanista­n in a one-off Test, starting November 27 in Hobart, but that match is set to be scrapped because of the Taliban’s stance regarding women’s sport.

CA is likely to arrange an alternate Ashes tune-up, but it remains unclear whether it will be an intra-squad contest, tour game involving England, or replacemen­t Test.

Australia opener Beth Mooney, whose side starts a multi-format women’s series against India next week, came out strongly in support of CA’s stance regarding the men’s Test against Afghanista­n.

‘‘One of the driving forces of Australian cricket is making sure we provide cricket as a sport for all,’’ Mooney said yesterday.

‘‘If we’re not advocating for women’s cricket around the country and globe — and supporting women’s cricket globally — then we’re not putting our money where our mouth is and showing what we stand for.’’

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