Paine takes on coaching role, but playing return unclear

Former Test captain Tim Paine has made his first steps back into cricket, returning to the Tasmanian Tigers group in a coaching capacity.

Paine, who took an indefinite break from the game after details of a sexting scandal became public in November, is still no closer to a playing return as he continues to spend time with his family.

Tasmania interim head coach, Ali de Winter, said Paine still hadn’t done any training but confirmed the 37-year-old was helping out around the group.

“It’s been a nice little distraction for him, I guess, to spend some time with us,” the Winter told reporters on Tuesday.

“He’s been great with our young players stepping in (but) where he stands with his playing of cricket, I don’t think he’s really thought that far ahead.

“He’s still doing his own physical training; he’s not doing any batting or wicketkeeping at the moment but he’s certainly present around the group.

“I think he’s just enjoying the re-entry into our group and just focusing on family life.”

Paine stepped down from the Test captaincy when the scandal broke on November 19 – just 19 days before the start of the Ashes – and was replaced as skipper by Pat Cummins a week later.

His last match was a second XI game for Tasmania in late November, when he attempted to prove his fitness to play in the five-Test series after off-season neck surgery.

He was then named to play in a Marsh One-Day Cup game for the Tigers on November 26 before it was announced on the morning of the match that he would take an indefinite leave of absence from all cricket “for the foreseeable future”.

The veteran of 35 Tests has barely been spotted in public since, including the final Ashes Test in his home city of Hobart.

Meanwhile, Tigers young allrounder Lawrence Neil-Smith has been ruled out for the rest of the domestic season with an “unusual” fracture in his foot.

Paine takes six catches in return to cricket

The 22-year-old had been in great form at the start of the summer before the KFC BBL, with two half centuries and 13 wickets in five Marsh Sheffield Shield matches.

“He will remain largely immobile for the remainder of the season which is really disappointing given the start to the season he had,” de Winter said.

Speedster Riley Meredith (rib) and middle-order batter Jordan Silk (hamstring) are both aiming to return from injury in a Marsh Cup match against Victoria on March 6, with spinner Jarrod Freeman expected to miss a couple of weeks with a hamstring injury.

New father Charlie Wakim will also be out for the next three or four weeks due to a lower back injury, while fast bowler Nathan Ellis remains sidelined by a side injury.

Tasmania have named ambidextrous spinner Nivethan Radhakrishnan in their Sheffield Shield squad for the clash against NSW at the SCG beginning on Friday after strong performances in the Under-19 World Cup in the Caribbean and Premier Cricket, where he scored 151 for Kingborough last Saturday.

“He’s got a unique gift that allows him to bowl both arms, so he allows us to think a little differently about how we would like to pick our team,” de Winter said.

“But it’s his batting that’s really earned him the right to be in the group at the moment … he’s ticking every box that we want.

“He’s developed far quicker than what we were hoping so if he gets his opportunity, I’m sure he will do really well.”

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