|Player:||SCG MacGill, SK Warne, GD McGrath, B Lee, SR Clark, DJ Cullen, CB Bailey, CL White, A Symonds, SR Watson|
DateLine: 10th January 2007
Stuart MacGill is the stand-out choice to succeed Shane Warne in the Australian Test team, chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch indicated Sunday. MacGill's international future looked uncertain when he was overlooked for the fifth Ashes Test at the spin-friendly Sydney Cricket Ground, with suggestions he could be overtaken by the young generation of Australian spinners. The leg-spinner's volatile temperament, including the suspension served at the start of this season for a clash with an umpire in a club match, also appeared to have harmed his chances of adding to his 40 Tests. MacGill will be nearly 37 and won't have played a Test for 19 months when Australia plays their next Test, against Sri Lanka in November. But Hilditch said Warne's long-time understudy deserved his shot. "There is no doubt that it's going to be a difficult hole to fill because Warne's been so great over such a long time and has won so many Test matches for us," Hilditch said Sunday. "We've been really lucky to have had MacGill. He has been a really good Test leg-spinner and he's going to come into contention at the start of the next series. "If he's fit and bowling well, he is obviously the person to look for." Hilditch said MacGill had been considered for all five Ashes Tests, but had missed out because the selectors wanted three fast bowlers plus Warne. He said MacGill's disciplinary record had no impact on him being overlooked. "We regard Stuart very highly and to suggest his behaviour prevented him playing, there is no substance to that whatsoever," he said. "The reason Stuart didn't play was because we wanted to go with the three-pronged pace attack (Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee and Stuart Clark), which was really instrumental in us regaining the Ashes. England has a far better batting side than they showed and that's because of our bowling." MacGill's cause is also likely to be aided by Hilditch's view that Australia's next group of spinners - including Dan Cullen, Cullen Bailey and Cameron White - all need time to develop. MacGill has taken 198 Test wickets at an average of 27.21, but has struggled to string together regular appearances because his career coincided with Test cricket's leading wicket-taker Warne. Hilditch said Australia was likely to stick with a frontline attack of three quicks and a spinner in the future, and would call on either Andrew Symonds or Shane Watson to bowl relief and bat in the top seven.