Victoria's 35-year-old is Australia's 'standout' spinner February 28, 2008

Warne points to McGain as Test candidate

Cricinfo staff

Bryce McGain's fine form for Victoria has improved his prospects of national selection © Getty Images

Bryce McGain, the 35-year-old Victoria legspinner, has won support from Shane Warne and Kerry O'Keeffe as the contenders line up to replace the retiring Brad Hogg. At the end of last season McGain was told by Victoria there would not be room for him in the one-day team, but he led the FR Cup wicket list with 15 and is currently on top at his state with 29 victims at 32.96 in first-class games.

McGain's late blooming has him being mentioned alongside Stuart MacGill, Dan Cullen and Nathan Hauritz as replacements for Hogg. "I wasn't in the picture last April and that spurred me on," McGain said in the Australian. "I guess you don't know if you can swim unless you get in the pool, and you have to be allowed in the pool before you can find out. I am hopeful I can do the job [for Australia] if I am asked."

Warne said McGain had been the "standout spinner from all over Australia over the summer". "He has done exceptionally well in all forms of the game," Warne said in the Courier-Mail. "Australia can go for someone like Bryce or try a young bloke, throw a young guy in there. Maybe for Pakistan they might pick two or three spinners." The tour, which is currently in doubt over security concerns, is due to begin late next month but Australia's selectors may not have to make a slow-bowling decision until the trip to the West Indies in May.

O'Keeffe, who played 24 Tests in the 1970s, said in the Age McGain was bowling as well as he ever has. "In a [Bob] 'Dutchy' Holland-like selection I think they'll talk about him at length," O'Keeffe said. Holland played his first Test as a 38-year-old in 1984 and O'Keeffe didn't think age should be a factor.

"The fact no other wrist-spinner around the place has done anything, and McGain's a leading wicket-taker in Pura Cup cricket, he's got wickets in all forms of the game, he deserves a chance," he said. Hogg, who will step down after the CB Series, is 37 while MacGill, who is recovering from wrist surgery, is the same age.

Adam Gilchrist is retiring alongside Hogg and he said whoever Australia chose as the veteran spinner's replacement would need to match his enthusiasm. "It doesn't matter what age, if we can get one that has the energy, intensity and passion that Brad Hogg had, we're very much on the right direction," Gilchrist said. "There's several options out there. There's a guy from Victoria Bryce McGain that's really impressed, but we'll just wait and see.

"[Hogg] has just been an extremely under-rated member of this team, often gone unacknowledged. If you look at his numbers ... he stacks up right next to the greats of one-day cricket, including Shane Warne."