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Aussie Test cricket captain Tim Paine has revealed brutal details of the surgery that's set to rule him out of action for almost two months.
The bulging disc in Paine's neck became the butt of a hilarious joke this week, courtesy of an ABC newsreader's embarrassing on-air gaffe.
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While Paine was quick to have a laugh about the incident, the surgery he had to get done on the problem was certainly no laughing matter.
The 36-year-old explained that surgeons had to "cut a big hole in my throat" so they could replace the C6 and C7 discs in his neck.
"I had the bulging disc pressing on my spine, I was having some pain down the left side of my body," Paine told SEN radio.
"They moved my voice box to the side and go in that way. It's less invasive, safer," he said.
"They put the new disc in, stitched them up and away we go. I feel like my range is already better and I just have to not make sure the cut heals and give the disc time to take to my spine over the next month or so, then get moving."
The issue leaves Paine facing a race to be fit for the start of the Ashes series against England which gets underway in Brisbane on December 8.
Paine says he expects to be out of action for only around six weeks after the surgery, citing similar injuries to former NRL and Wallabies star Matt Rogers and recently retired Melbourne Demons captain Nathan Jones, who were back up and running within eight weeks.
"The precedent has been set, guys have got back from it reasonably quickly. We've been talking to all those players, their physios, their surgeons to track their rehab plans and get me back as quick as we can," Paine said.
"As soon as this six-week block is over I'll be good to go. I'm pretty confident outside of that six weeks I'll be ready to go within a week. That gives me plenty of time (for the Ashes). I won't be as fit or as strong as I'd like to be. If I am moving freely, I'll give a good fist of it."
"It was sort of getting to that touch and go stage where I either don't get it done and take the risk that I'd be right through the Ashes, or get it fixed now.
"Pretty happy with the decision after the surgeon had a look in there.
Tim Paine targets return in Sheffield Shield
Paine says he's "extremely confident" of being right for the first Ashes Test and has targeted a Sheffield Shield return for Tasmania beforehand.
"I'll hopefully get a Shield game in for Tassie before then and hopefully be on the winning end of a third winning Ashes would be something really special," Paine added.
"I want to keep playing for Tasmania after my international career.
"To have it fixed and out of the way was the correct decision long term.
"I've had plenty of doubters my whole career so it's something that I'm used to; that's alright, I'll use it as motivation to get back out."
England have expressed serious concerns about the conditions the team will be forced to live under during the Ashes, creating doubt about the series going ahead as planned.
But Paine believes the conditions will be nowhere near as bad as what the tourists are fearing.
"The main stuff with the English guys is around the protocols with quarantine but we're not asking them to do anything that we won't be doing," Paine said.
"I think if we can get them out here they'll realise the conditions during Australia's' COVID hubs are pretty good and nothing to worry about."
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