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‘I’ll be ready to go’: Paine neck surgery won’t impact Ashes

Melbourne veteran Nathan Jones had similar surgery in 2016 and has been a decorated player for his club, although his career won’t end with a fairytale in the AFL Grand Final against the Western Bulldogs.

Jones flew home to Melbourne the day after the Demons’ preliminary final win over Geelong in Perth on Friday night ahead of the birth of twins, ending the slim hope of an unlikely Grand Final call-up.

The former skipper has played 302 games since debuting in 2006, just four behind David Neitz’s club record of 306.

Paine, 36, is expected to retire following the Ashes after being a shock selection as Test captain when skipper Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner were stood down and later banned as a result of Sandpapergate in South Africa more than three years ago.

He has done an outstanding job as a captain and statesman helping to rebuild the credibility of Australian cricket.

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Paine was a child prodigy but after numerous operations on a badly broken finger he was left out of the Tasmanian side and considered retiring to take up a position with cricket gear manufacturer Kookaburra.

He was talked into playing one more season and was selected to replace Matthew Wade as wicketkeeper for the 2017-18 Ashes series.

Paine played four Tests in 2010 as an injury replacement for Brad Haddin and performed well. He has now played 35 Tests, claiming 150 catches, making seven stumpings and averaging 33 with the bat, including nine half-centuries.

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