Spinner concedes he is struggling November 22, 2007

MacGill running out of time - physio

Cricinfo staff

Stuart MacGill only managed one wicket - from a short ball - in the second innings at Hobart and is under pressure to retain his place © Getty Images

Stuart MacGill does not have time to significantly improve his fitness ahead of the Boxing Day Test and playing Pura Cup matches in the lead-up could make his knee injury worse, according to Australia's physio Alex Kountouris. The physio's advice came after Tim Nielsen, the coach, told MacGill his fitness would continue to be monitored, especially given Australia's hectic upcoming Test schedule.

Playing two Tests within two weeks hampered MacGill's recovery from knee surgery and he was also struggling with numbness in his hand against Sri Lanka in Hobart. Kountouris said MacGill was free to play for New South Wales in two Pura Cup matches before the India Test series but he would have trouble regaining his fitness in the next month.

"There's not enough time, really," Kountouris told the Herald Sun. "I have made him available to play in the Pura Cup, if he wants to, but that could actually be a limiting factor. It will be hard to improve his fitness during games."

MacGill, 36, had a lot of trouble landing his deliveries where he intended at Hobart, especially in the second innings, and he served up plenty of full tosses and short balls. On Wednesday he said he was undecided about how to approach the next month.

"Just give me a day or so," MacGill said. "I haven't dissected things myself, yet. I haven't sat down and thought about things yet. Last night was all about the team, not me, so I haven't had time to think about it. I haven't even talked to my wife about how her week's been yet."

MacGill conceded that two Tests in quick succession had taken their toll on his body. "I'm getting old. I don't think there's any secret that I was struggling a little bit," he said.

Should Australia decide MacGill cannot handle the demands of their schedule the next spinner in line would almost certainly be Brad Hogg, who was included in a 13-man squad ahead of the first Sri Lanka Test. Hogg is 19 days older than MacGill but there are no doubts over his fitness and although he has become mainly a one-day bowler, he started the Pura Cup season with 13 wickets at 17.30 from two games.

John Buchanan, Nielsen's predecessor as the coach, said Australia would not want to make a change after only two Tests but MacGill had to take the initiative and get himself into shape. "[The selectors] were keen to see where the body and the skills were at and how he handled reappearing on the international scene," Buchanan said in the Australian.

"I imagine, in terms of where the body is at, he hasn't done himself any favours at all and that's impacting on where the skills are at. I'm a big fan of Brad Hogg because he brings a lot of other things to the Test team but in terms of Stuart MacGill versus Brad Hogg as a five-day Test bowler his [MacGill's] record speaks for itself."