Tim Paine has expressed his confidence of returning for the first Ashes Test after the invasive neck surgery he has recently gone through, as per a report from ESPN Cricinfo. The Australian Test captain had a bulging disc that was causing his neck and left arm considerable pain, and told his SEN radio show that surgeons had cut a whole in his throat, moved his voice box and fixed the problem through that route.
Paine is hopeful that he can emulate the eight weeks that other sports stars have had off after such an operation, putting him back into the mix for the first game against England on December 8. With the wicketkeeper out of action for a while, there will be increasing pressure from certain sections of the fanbase to reinstate Steve Smith, Australia's serial run-getter who has served his sandpaper-induced ban, as skipper. Paine, after all, is yet to make a Test century in a 35-game career.
He was happy to swat those rumours aside, and went on to urge England's players, who are having considerable doubts over flying to Australia given the COVID restrictions in place there, to make the trip and realise things are not so bad. He mentioned that the tourists will not be asked "to do anything that we won't be doing", and that should they choose to get on the flight they will quickly notice "Australia's COVID hubs are pretty good and nothing to worry about".