“I haven’t given it a lot of thought. It might be,” said Paine, who turns 35 next month. “I’m not too sure. I haven’t looked at it that way at the moment. But I’m enjoying doing it. I feel good physically. I feel good mentally, so while that continues and I’m scoring enough runs and keeping well enough then I’d like to continue.
“But I know when you get to my age that can change really quickly. I’m not going to look too far ahead. I’m really looking forward to this summer. Beyond that I haven’t looked too far. I’ll stop when I’m ready to stop, or when [head coach] Justin [Langer] and ‘Cracker’ [national selector Trevor Hohns] tell me that I am and when that time comes I am ready for it.”
The Australian captaincy has been a hot topic since Steve Smith’s return to the side in England in the winter and questions began being asked about whether he could resume the role at a point in the future after his leadership ban expires in April.
CA officials have largely danced around the issue to date, throwing their weight behind Paine, who is one senior figure who has supported the idea of Smith returning to the captaincy, saying he would be “fully supportive of it”. However, the governing body’s new executive general manager of national teams, Ben Oliver, told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age last week that discussions about a succession plan would start this summer.
Paine himself has deliberately limited the amount of cricket he is playing in an effort to increase his longevity at Test level, swerving the limited-overs formats across all levels. He has played only three matches, in the Sheffield Shield for Tasmania, since the Ashes and it is no accident.
“I want to play as much Test cricket as I can so it’s important for me that I’m really fresh mentally and physically because I know as soon as I hit the Test summer my workload from a cricket sense and an off-field sense goes through the roof,” he said.
“That was one of the reasons why I missed a game for Tassie was to have a week at home and not because I was feeling tired or had injury concerns, it was me pre-empting what I know is coming up in the next few months and making sure that I can give my best to my game and myself and to my family and my team for this whole summer.
“Our goal is to get back to that No.1 ranking and we want to win that Test championship. It’s an exciting period and I’m looking forward to being part of the start of that and there is no end point at the moment.”