MacGill must play in first Test: Lehmann - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

MacGill must play in first Test: Lehmann

By Greg Buckle 25/10/2007 06:03:33 PM Comments (0)

Former Australian batsman Darren Lehmann has backed Stuart MacGill for a start in the first Test, preferring the NSW leg spinner to his own SA teammate Shaun Tait.

While chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch could be tempted to unleash quicks Brett Lee, Stuart Clark, Mitchell Johnson and Tait on the Sri Lankans in Brisbane on November 8, Lehmann was very much in MacGill's corner.

"Oh, I've got him certainly in (the side)," said Lehmann, who'll return from injury to play for South Australia in Monday's Pura Cup match against Tasmania in Hobart.

"Statistically he's the best leg-spinner going around now (198 wickets in 40 Tests), in probably the world.

"As long as he's fit and ready to go and gets enough overs under his belt in this four-day game (NSW v Queensland starting tomorrow), I think he's a certain starter.

"Shane Warne's record in Brisbane is second to none and for variety in the attack, you just have to play a spinner.

"But having said that, I'm not a selector.

"I know Taity hasn't ruled himself out, but he is just coming back from injury.

"He got through the one-day game really well (against Victoria). I think he's probably a little way off but I'm not a medico."

Lehmann said he would have Tait in the squad if he pulled out a big performance against Tasmania.

Pressed on concerns over MacGill's age and fitness, after he missed the first-round Pura Cup game in Perth with a knee injury, Lehmann threw up the name of former Australian leggie Bob Holland, who took 34 wickets in 11 Tests, making his debut aged 38 in 1984-85.

"Dutchy Holland was quite old wasn't he?," said Lehmann, 37.

"I don't have a problem with age. I don't think anyone does really and our younger spinners are still learning the game.

"If one of those was going really well then maybe you would look at it. But I don't think age should come into it."

Lehmann also threw his weight behind NSW opener Phil Jaques as a replacement for the retired Justin Langer.

"I've got Phil Jaques certainly in as well," Lehmann said.

"I think he has been really good for a couple of years.

"He's played a couple of Tests. I think he has done enough to have played all over the world and learnt his craft, to be able to play and open with Matthew Hayden."

Lehmann said the retirements of Warne, Glenn McGrath and Langer after the Ashes series ended in January heralded an exciting new era.

"I think the younger blokes have the chance to step up," the former South Australian captain said.

"How good is it going to be? At least you blokes (media) will be able to write about and talk about something else now, which is exciting."

Test paceman Clark, who is vying for the chance to step up to a new-ball role with McGrath's departure, said he hoped Australia's opponents Sri Lanka and India were approaching their upcoming Test series against Australia thinking an era of dominance had ended.

"The guys are so keen to play Test cricket. We've had a lot of one-day cricket in the last 12 months," Clark said.

"The Ashes was great but it's finished.

"We've got a lot to prove with the retirements of all the guys.

"We're really going out there ... there's been a lot of discussion about will it be or won't it be (Australia dominating Test cricket)?

"I think it will be (Australia) even more.

"I hope they really think that (Australia are vulnerable) because we are doing everything we can to make sure our game is ready.

"If they underestimate us, I think we are in a good spot."

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