MacGill says Holland must play in India
Stuart MacGill has warned the Australian selectors that taking away young players as understudies is "fraught with danger", but he hopes Jon Holland, the Victorian spinner, has been picked on the India one-day tour for the right reasons. Holland, a 22-year-old left-arm orthodox, appeared in only eight 50-over games for Victoria and Australia A before winning his elevation, with Andrew Hilditch and his fellow panellists searching for an answer to Australia's long-term slow bowling problems.
While MacGill, who gained 208 wickets in 44 Tests, said selections like Holland's did not devalue the national cap, he felt the spinner had to be picked in the unit because he was wanted to play. "There's nothing wrong with giving him a go," MacGill told the Sydney Morning Herald. "The only way it's damaging is if they're taking him along to get a feel for being around the squad, without having any plans to throw him into a game. That can blow up in your face if there's an injury or someone is forced out."
Nathan Hauritz is Australia's No. 1 slow bowler and will be called upon for a lot of action in the seven one-day matches, which start on October 25. Holland has been tipped for big things by Allan Border, but has played only 17 senior games and is ranked behind Bryce McGain at Victoria.
''I really hope they have picked Jon Holland because they want him to play and make a proper contribution,'' MacGill said. ''Taking players away as understudies is fraught with danger. If they play when it wasn't part of the plan, that's when you're in the s***. That's when the cap is devalued. But I don't think that's the case with Jon.''
MacGill knows the damage an early elevation can do after his mid-series retirement in the West Indies in 2008 led to Beau Casson, the left-arm wrist spinner, being called up. "They picked [Beau] for the West Indies tour but didn't expect him to play," he said. "They thought I'd be playing for another year so they could ease him in. But then I retired on that tour, he got a Test and …'' Soon after his arrival home Casson was not in the New South Wales side and hasn't been a serious national contender since, with Cameron White, Jason Krejza, Hauritz, McGain and Holland being preferred.
MacGill said Holland looks like a "naturally gifted bowler". "I can't see why he won't go well," he said. "He's mature and down to earth, which is well and good, but that doesn't make him the Messiah. Give him time.''