Tuesday, June 3, 2008

MacGill a shock

To say Stuart MacGill's retirement half way through the second Test in Antigua was a shock would be a massive understatement!
There has been all sorts of rumours floating around and I guess at some time in the future we will discover the validity of those rumours.
Watching him bowl in the period since Shane Warne's retirement in January 2007 rarely, if ever has he reached the standard he set early in his career.
An operation on his bowling hand followed by another on his knee seem not to have allowed him to bowl with any confidence either in Pura Cup or Test matches.
For him to pull the pin as he did he too must believe a return to his best is out of the question.
He appears to have lost the "feel" in his fingers.
The door is now open for the next generation of spinners. It would now be pointless to go back to Warne, as some pundits are suggesting or choose Victoria's Bryce McGain at the age of 35 or 36.
Australia has three very promising spinners in Dan Cullen, Cullen Bailey and of course Beau Cassin who is the only one of the three to be contracted by Cricket Australia this year.
Cassin is in the West Indies so he is "Johnny on the spot" to get first crack.
Trouble is he hasn't bowled in a match since the Pura Cup final in March so it is unlikely he will become Australia's 401st player on this tour.
It is more likely Ricky Ponting will opt for safety first and use Michael Clarke and Andrew Symons as his spinners. I hope I am wrong.
The next tour is to India in September which means Cassin as the contracted spinner will tour there and probably be joined by Redback's off spinner Dan Cullen who injured his hand during the Pura Cup final when looking good.
Cullen has been working on his spin and pace in the off season and a week at the Centre of Excellence has him going very well.
Should he be chosen for India it may well present Cullen Bailey with an opportunity to impress the Redback's selectors which could (should) lead to the two South Australian's bowling in tandem for most, if not all of the summer.
Bailey lost form and spin last season for a number of reasons but he looks to be back to spinning his leg break again due to work since the season ended in disappointment for him.
Both boys will attend another week or two at the Centre of Excellence later this month.
We must all be patient with these three young spinners who are going to attempt to fill big shoes of Warne (the best leg spinner of all time). MacGill the greatest "understudy" and possibly the unluckiest and Brad Hogg who was Australia's World Cup winner on two occasions.
They cannot be replaced overnight. It will be exciting watching to see which of the boys is the first to place his name in front of the selectors as the year unfolds.
I make no prediction there!