Tim Paine could be back playing in Tasmania in six weeks as Australia's former Test captain prepares for his cricket comeback.
Paine is training with Tasmania's state squad as an uncontracted player as he plots a return for the first time since losing the Test captaincy in a text message controversy.
The 37-year-old took time away from the sport after standing down as Test skipper in November last year. Paine never retired but wasn't contracted on Tasmania's playing roster for this summer.
Cricket Tasmania say Paine is back in training. Tasmania's first outing this summer is a one-dayer on September 28 against South Australia but Paine is aiming to return in club ranks.
Cricket Tasmania's grade competition, the Premier League, starts in early October. Tasmania's opening Sheffield Shield game begins on October 6.
"We can confirm that Tim has returned to training with the aim at this stage to play in the CTPL this season," a Cricket Tasmania spokesperson said.
The governing body declined further comment but Paine has another powerful ally in fellow Tasmanian and ex-Test skipper Ricky Ponting. Ponting, recently appointed as head of strategy for Hobart Hurricanes, has openly stated his desire for Paine to again play for the BBL franchise.
Paine quit the Test captaincy after admitting involvement in a lewd text exchange with a female former employee of Cricket Tasmania in late 2017.
Cricket Australia secretly investigated at the time and exonerated Paine of wrongdoing, but he stepped down on the eve of last year's Ashes series when made aware the text exchange would become public.
Paine's successor as Test captain, Pat Cummins, said the wicketkeeper hasn't been forgotten.
"Someone like Painey, firstly as a mate you want to make sure he's okay. We all make mistakes," Cummins said last week. "He did the wrong thing but he tried to fix the situation as best as he could...I really feel for him."