Justin Langer retains hope that Tim Paine will return to international cricket after terming the former Australia captain "one of the best people in the game" following his whistle-stop visit to Hobart ahead of the Ashes.
Langer made the trip south after being released from quarantine last week with Paine's captaincy having come to end while he was with the group of players and staff returning from the T20 World Cup.
Having initially remained available for selection for the Ashes, with all indications he would have been picked had he proved his fitness after neck surgery, Paine then opted to step away from the game to manage his mental health which has led to a debut for Alex Carey.
It has created the possibility that Paine has played his last Test and while Langer said the immediate priority was his health and family he did not believe it had to be the end.
"He absolutely loves cricket," Langer said. "He's 37, he's as fit as any athlete, certainly in our squad and we've got some fit athlete's. He looks after himself so well. Who knows. His No. 1 priority at the moment is his family and that's how it should be. Not sure we've seen the end of him but we'll wait and see, that will be his decision.
"He's one of my really close friends and someone I admire enormously. Certainly in this generation of players he's one of the best people I've met in the game. He's been our captain for a long time, me and him have been through a journey like we have with all this group, so it was nice to see him."
Langer confirmed that he first knew of the text messages in mid-2018 as the squad was heading to England for a limited-overs tour and added he had not heard about them again until shortly before Paine stepped down.
Paine has not put a timeframe on his break and Australia have named a squad for the first two Ashes Tests. It had been considered likely that this series would mark the end of his Test career.
Langer, who came into the role after the ball-tampering scandal, also lamented the situation Paine had been left in
"We live in a world of perfectionism, don't we? We're a very judgemental society," he said. "As I said at my very first press conference when I was asked about Steve Smith and David Warner and Cameron Bancroft, there's not one person asking questions or watching this who hasn't made a mistake in their life.
"There's not a single person. And our captain, one of the best, made a mistake and is paying a heavy price for it."