Australia Test captain Tim Paine faces a disrupted build-up to the Ashes after it was decided that he would undergo surgery on a pinched nerve in his neck, which has been causing problems for a considerable time. First reported in the Australian, Paine will have the operation on Tuesday, after being unable to train at full intensity in recent weeks with rest not helping to ease the problem.

A Cricket Australia statement said Paine had been suffering pain in his neck and left arm due to a bulging disc. He consulted a spinal surgeon in Hobart late last week, and it was recommended that he have the surgery to relieve the pressure on the nerve.

It is hoped that he would be fit to return to action in early November, which would leave him a month to prepare for the first Test against England, which is currently scheduled to start on December 8 in Brisbane.

"The consensus of the spinal surgeon and the CA medical team was to have the surgery now which will allow plenty of time to fully prepare for the summer," Paine said. "I expect to be able to restart physical activity by the end of this month and be back in full training in October. I will be ready to go by the first Test and am very much looking forward to what will be a huge summer."

It means Paine will be ruled out of Tasmania's early Sheffield Shield matches. They are one of four states due to start their season later this month when they face Queensland. Beyond the opening two matches, the rest of the Sheffield Shield schedule remains uncertain due to Covid-19 disruptions.

It appears that Paine could lose the chance to captain Australia on his home ground in Hobart at the end of November with the Test against Afghanistan now in serious doubt following Cricket Australia's stance that they will cancel the match if women aren't allowed to play sport under the Taliban's rule in Afghanistan.

Australia have only played four Tests in the last 18 months - all against India last season - with the tour of South Africa earlier this year postponed due to Covid-19 concerns.

There remains uncertainty around the Ashes series with CA and the ECB continuing to work through the quarantine requirements for the England squad when they arrive into the country while there is the possibility that some players will opt out of the tour.