Chief selector George Bailey said Tuesday he will step aside from voting on whether Tim Paine should remain in the Australian Test cricket side if there is a split decision, given their personal and business relationship.
Paine abruptly quit as skipper on Friday ahead of the Ashes series against England over a series of lewd text messages with a female colleague in 2017 that were about to be made public.
But he made clear he still wants to play as wicketkeeper in the opening Test in Brisbane on December 8.
That decision will be made by a three-man selection panel comprising Bailey, coach Justin Langer and the recently appointed Tony Dodemaide.
Bailey, who took over from Trevor Hohns as head selector earlier this year, is a close friend of Paine, having long played together at Tasmania. They are also co-investors in a gym business in the state.
“If the panel was not in agreeance with Tim’s position going forward and it was going to come down to a vote, then I would step aside and leave that to Tony and Justin to work through,” he said on the Cricket Etc podcast. “They’re both aware of that.”
Paine, 36, has suggested he may retire altogether after the Ashes and if he is not picked for Brisbane it could spell the end of his international career.
Working against him is a lack of match practice after invasive surgery in September for pain in his neck and left arm due to a bulging disc.
He made his return for Tasmania’s second XI in Hobart on Monday, grabbing six catches.
Bailey, a former skipper of the Australian limited-over teams, said selectors were watching how he fares closely.
“One thing Tim’s always been pretty good at is the preparation side of things. He is quite meticulous,” he said. “There is no doubt it is not an ideal preparation, but we’ll watch this game and he’ll know how he gets through the four days as much as anyone.”
If they opt against him, Alex Carey is seen as favourite to take the gloves in Brisbane.