Hobart Test 'bittersweet' without Paine

By Ethan James
Proud Tasmanian Tim Paine will not be attending the first ever Test match on the island state. (AAP)

Cricket Tasmania chairman Andrew Gaggin says this week's landmark Ashes Test in Hobart is bittersweet in the absence of former skipper Tim Paine.

Blundstone Arena will from Friday host the fifth match of the Australia-England series, the first time a Test has been held on the island state since 2016.

It is also the first Ashes clash in Tasmania.

Hobart-born Paine, who has long pushed for Tasmania to host more international cricket, stepped down as Test captain in mid-November when a sexting scandal became public.

He won't be attending the day-night fixture and is reportedly on holiday interstate.

Gaggin has previously lashed Cricket Australia for their "appalling" treatment of Paine, claiming the sport's governing body should have supported the 37-year-old and not regarded him as "dispensable".

Paine captained the Test side in 23 matches, but never in his home town.

"It's a bit bittersweet with Tim. We've made our position very clear in the past on that," Gaggin said on Tuesday.

"I haven't changed my mind on that. I don't think I want to say any more about it. It's a shame that he can't be here."

After quitting as Test captain, Paine initially remained in Australia's Ashes squad before announcing on November 26 he was taking a break from cricket for the "foreseeable future" for his mental health.

"At the moment he's taking it a moment at a time. We're working with him," Gaggin said.

"I know the ACA (Australian Cricketers' Association) are also keeping in touch and so is his manager. At the moment, I don't think he's given any commitment to play again this season."

Gaggin indicated the first three days of the Test at the 15,000-capacity ground have effectively sold out.

An extra 500 tickets, ones not snapped up by sponsors, for each of the first three days have gone on sale to the general public.

"The interest from the Tasmanian public has been such that we could have sold out this game twice if we had greater capacity," Gaggin said.

"Some people said there was no interest in Test cricket in Hobart. In the first day of tickets going on sale, the first three days were pretty much sold out.

"I think that puts that to bed. Tasmanians love Test cricket. They're coming from all over the state to attend this game."

Australia, which holds an unassailable 3-0 lead in the Ashes, were humbled by South Africa in their last Test at Blundstone Arena, prompting wholesale changes to the side.


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