Waugh gives MacGill the thumbs up - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Waugh gives MacGill the thumbs up

By Brent Read 18/12/2002 07:23:50 PM Comments (0)

Australian captain Steve Waugh has given Stuart MacGill a ringing endorsement as selectors weigh up their spinning options ahead of the fourth Test against England.

The Australian squad will be named on Sunday for the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne, with MacGill looming as the obvious replacement for the injured Shane Warne.

And his cause was given a leg-up by Waugh, who branded MacGill the second best spinner in the world.

"Of course he's a chance, you don't have to be Einstein to work that one out," Waugh said.

"He's a world class bowler, probably the second best spinner in the world. We're lucky to have both those guys in Australia and he'd obviously be a good chance."

MacGill, who has spent much of his career in the shadow of Warne, has played one Test at the MCG, taking seven wickets against England in 1998.

His record at the SCG, scene of the fifth Test, is even more impressive.

In three Tests at the ground, the 31-year-old has taken 26 wickets at an average of 18.19.

His overall Test figures - 82 wickets in 17 Tests at an average 25.01 - make him the logical replacement for Warne.

However, his form this season has been less than exemplary.

He was overlooked by selectors when a preliminary 30-man World Cup squad was named earlier this month and has had a frustrating Pura Cup season, taking only 17 wickets in five matches at an average of 41.94.

The selectors have also shown their hand by delaying the announcement of the Test squad until Sunday, an indication that Warne's replacement is less than cut and dry.

They have the option of blooding young Victorian leggie Cameron White or Queensland off spinner Nathan Hauritz, while West Australian all-rounder Brad Hogg looms as a dark horse after replacing Warne in the one day squad.

However, MacGill can end all the debate with a strong showing for NSW against Victoria in their Pura Cup match, starting at the SCG on Thursday.

The top-of-the-table clash also gives him the chance to go head-to-head with the 19-year-old White, who has taken 13 wickets this season and was named in the 30-man World Cup squad.

"If it's a shootout that's fine," Victorian coach David Hookes said.

"They would both be aware of that. White is a much more brilliant fieldsman and a much more brilliant bat than Magilla.

"So the shootout really is the bowling verse the bowling aspect as distinct from the cricketer verse the cricketer because White is always going to be a better cricketer than MacGill."

White himself played down his chances of sneaking into the Australian side.

"Whatever happens out here it happens," he said today.

"I am focussed on this match and this match alone at the moment."

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