Langer won’t rule out return for former captain Paine

Australia coach Justin Langer has not ruled out a return to international cricket for Tim Paine despite the wicketkeeper resigning from the captaincy following his involvement in a “sexting” scandal.

Paine threw Australia’s Ashes preparations into turmoil three weeks before the start of the series against England when he quit the role before it was announced he would be taking an indefinite mental health break from the game.

“When I saw him he’s obviously shattered with what’s happened because he’s been such an exemplary figure in Australian cricket, for the last four years particularly,” Langer told reporters on Saturday.

“His life’s changed, obviously.

“He absolutely loves cricket. He’s 37 and he is as fit as any athlete, certainly in our squad and we’ve got some fit athletes here.

“He looks after himself so well, he’s very focussed so who knows” if he will return.

“His number one priority at the moment is his family, as you can imagine, and that’s how it should be.

“But I’m not sure we’ve seen the end of him. We’ll wait and see, but that will be his decision.”

While Paine may return in the future, Langer stressed Australia will not allow any distractions to take the attention off the Ashes series, which starts at the Gabba in Brisbane on Wednesday and concludes in mid-January.

“We made a commitment probably six months ago to be very mission-focussed and to have real clarity with everyone’s roles in the team, whether it’s the players and the staff,” he said.

“Very mission-focused on the World Cup and then the Ashes.

“The World Cup has been accomplished and there was distractions then, but if you stay mission-focussed … You haven’t got time to be focussed on anything else except winning what we’re trying to do.

“We did that at the World Cup, we’ll do that in the Ashes and when we get a chance, everyone will catch up with Painey and keep paying him the respect he deserves.”

(Reporting by Michael Church; Editing by William Mallard)

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