Australia news November 3, 2011

We counted on MacGill to play on - Nielsen

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Stuart MacGill threw Australian cricket's plan for life after Shane Warne into a state of confusion when he retired almost two years earlier than expected, the former national coach Tim Nielsen has said.

Nielsen revealed in an interview with ESPNcricinfo that the team expected MacGill to play on until the end of 2009, rather than ending his career in the middle of the 2008 West Indies tour.

Such a path would have had MacGill face India, New Zealand, South Africa and then England on the 2009 Ashes tour. Instead, his retirement started a cycle of scatter-shot spin bowling selections that continued unabated for three years, and may only be settling now after Nathan Lyon's success on his first Test tour in Sri Lanka.

Nielsen admitted he was unsure whether in all that time the team and the selectors knew exactly what they were looking for in a spinner.

"I just wonder whether we ever clearly understood what role we wanted the spinner to actually play," Nielsen said. "We came off the Warne era and the MacGill era, MacGill retired in the West Indies in '08 which was why Beau [Casson] came in to debut.

"What really was the issue was we counted on MacGill to play through until the end of 2009 really, and when that changed, it put us under a bit of pressure from a spin bowling stocks point of view, we had young blokes who weren't quite ready and maybe thrown in the deep end a bit early. At different times there were decisions made that it might actually hurt them more to keep going rather than just yank them out and let them play a bit more Shield cricket."

Having spent most of his career in the shadow of Warne, MacGill became Australia's No. 1 spinner at the end of 2007 but immediately ran into a range of physical problems, from chronic knee trouble to the damaging emergence of carpal-tunnel syndrome, which robbed him of feeling in his spinning fingers.

"MacGill isn't talked about much but he took 200 Test wickets. By then he was probably older than he needed to be to play every Test match for a couple of years," Nielsen said. "He'd played a lot of Test cricket by the time he got the opportunity to be the only spinner, he must've played 50 Test matches, and he had chronic knees, he'd been around the system for a long time.

"What we did do after that was speculate a couple of times, that didn't quite work out, [Nathan] Hauritz has been pretty good I reckon. Because we've had a few spinners in a row it continues to be talked about, and in the background under all that you say is SK Warne. Someone we relied on and loved to have for so long, was no longer there.

"It was a hard place to be as a spinner because there was this public expectation of the next Warne and our Test match victories a lot of the time happened with the quicks doing damage in the first part of the game and then Warney cleaning up in the second half. When we didn't have that sort of option there was pressure put on publicly and I'm sure they felt it themselves, so it wasn't that easy."

Among the most curious cases in Australia's spin saga was that of Jason Krejza, dropped only one Test after taking 12 wickets on his debut in India as an aggressive bowler. Nielsen said that looking back, Krejza might easily have been persisted with, though he also highlighted the problem of bowlers learning their trade at Test level because they were not given enough room by their states in first-class cricket.

"In hindsight it is easy to say exactly that, we should have stuck with him," Nielsen said. "The hard part was he was very inexperienced, a bit like us having to pick Hauritz out of the NSW second XI. Everybody yells and screams about the selectors having to pick spinners, well I'd like the states to start picking some spinners as well and sticking with them.

"While the selectors can be panned for that, it is bloody hard to go up and learn your caper at the highest level. We need to get these kids in there and give them a run and a chance to get their heads around first-class cricket, and learn. Ideally by the time they get to Test match cricket they've been up and down and through the mill a couple of times, and understand how to cope when its not spinning a lot in Perth or its not going that well in Brisbane. They've learned by playing there."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • AKS286 on November 6, 2011, 14:34 GMT

    if mcgain will get next chance then definately m.de vineto also get chance.

  • AKS286 on November 6, 2011, 14:29 GMT

    @dr. qwert mary go round in spinners agree OK. BIG BUT mary go round apply on fast bowlers too pattinson, cumming, butterworth, mckay, hilfy,harris, siddle, bollinger, hazelwood, copeland, hasting, ETC except of MJ can anyone predict the next 2 pacers? some peoples are here if any bowler perform well in 1-2 matches they start saying select mr. X,Y,Z blaa blaa.adam voges is the man who deserve position in test M.hussey & a. voges together solid combination. clark is the one of the unlucky players of Oz. BEER is the best among all spinners in the international level beer must be in test, odi.

  • Meety on November 5, 2011, 22:37 GMT

    When all the Ozzy greats started retiring, Oz was well placed to replace all of them well, for a reasonable period of time, (2 to 3 yrs). McGrath - Clark, Langar - Katich, Hayden - Jaques, Symonds - Watson, Gilchrest - Haddin, Warne - McGill, Gillespie - MJ, Martyn - Hussey. With Lee the spearhead, Oz could of fielded a side that (more "mortal" than previous), but # 1 for a lot longer than they did. Clark & Lee got injured, leaving MJ to carry the can a lot earlier than anticipated, then McGill & Hogg were injured or retired - the spin merry-go-round started - very destabilizing, Jaques got injured & NEVER regained form, he can't even get a hit with NSW at the moment. Haddin never quite reached the batting heights ecpected - I thought he would average around the low to mid 40s - currently about 38. What this has done - to be fair is put the selectors in an uncomfortable position & bring forward some players who weren't quite ready or not suitable to the role, (North was out of posi).

  • Dr.Qwert on November 5, 2011, 3:56 GMT

    is their any consistency in what they say & what they do? Steve Smith, a clearly underdone cricketer picked in a team he wasn't going to bowl in... picked as a second spinner? but as Neilsen said "We need to get these kids in there and give them a run and a chance to get their heads around first-class cricket, and learn." But that aside Krejza should have been persisted with, I said that at the time & hindsight he admits may have proven me right. Hauritz shouldn't have been dropped either, although he'd be better with a pace attack lead by a more steady McGrath or even a Stuart Clark type bowler than Mitchell Johnson (nothing against Johnson) building pressure. McGain deserved a second chance albeit he was 36 at the time.

  • Meety on November 4, 2011, 11:06 GMT

    @Doogius - no worries matey! As for Qadir, mate he was wild! Great Leggie, but sometimes I think he wished he was a pace bowler like Imran! == == == Coulter-Nile is now injured! I reckon he was just about in contention to train with the Test team before the NZ series. This is a massive blow. On the other hand, Cutting has been tearing it up this season, I think he is an almost certain starter for the next Ashes! (Assuming NOT INJURED!)

  • Doogius on November 4, 2011, 8:41 GMT

    @Meety, sorry dude, I stand corrected (and am showing my age :). 1day cricket was the argument at the time. But, they also played bucket load more shield games in those days. The 60's and 70's was when we produced spinners consistently - now we produce trundlers. Warne and McGill were freaks inspired by Qadir. There a little younger than me but when he came here, he inspired a lot of people. I (like yourself I imagine) just want to see balanced cricket, something for the quickie, the batsmen, the spinner. Producing roads doesn't inspire balanced cricket (even if Canberrans deserve it:)

  • Meety on November 4, 2011, 7:59 GMT

    @Doogius - not sure what you meant "...but 5 day shield cricket was trashed because of the workload ..." - but there was never 5 days of play in Shield cricket until Finals from 1980 or 81. However, there were rest days. I am also not sure what you mean by "...if we give fast bowlers a legup - say let them bowl off 18 yds..." I would hate to see a world where only spinners operate, but all I was saying is leave the Gabba etc the way they are, but add a regular ground that is conducive to spin. More opportunities = more chance of unearthing a genuine prospect. As for your thoughts about "Argus review = if your good enough = you play" - I'm cool with that, but if you look around, a lot of spinners get select & are just token in attendance, they're not getting much of a go, anybody can spot instances that are the opposite of what I said, but the long term trend has been away from using spinners in FC games. The opposite is happening in ODIs/T20s.

  • AKS286 on November 4, 2011, 5:35 GMT

    if lyon successful career in SL then what u say about kreja debut against india, SL now a days playing very very poor test cricket. domestic records are very much different to the international. various examples mark ramprakash, robert key, m de vinuto, elliot, mark taylor,KP, kirtley , dhoni, etc check out there domestic & international record.o'keefe & dohertry are the domestic heroes these two never bowl openly in international cricket. they want to hide themselves dont bowl like a spinner. but beer guts and bowl with confidence in the ashes.

  • Doogius on November 4, 2011, 5:18 GMT

    @ Everyone - I can finish the spinners wicket debate real quick. the only world class spinner produced at the SCG (when it turned) was Stuey and he wasn't even our best at the time. MCG doesn't spin at all and look at Warnie. Tim May - SA, Hoggy - WA. You have to go back a long way to find a NSW spinner who could take wickets in most places. Argus review = if your good enough = you play - why should spinners be any different. Now in a 5 day game they actually get to show they are good enough. In 4 days - not a chance. But really, what does it matter. The ACB will go there own way as usual...

  • Doogius on November 4, 2011, 3:48 GMT

    @Meety. So to use your logic - if we give fast bowlers a legup - say let them bowl off 18 yds, we'll have the best fasties in the world. As for Banga - no criticism on them but a world where only spin bowlers bowl is a very boring world indeed. What spinners need to do is be tight and conservative when conditions are against them but attack hard when they're favourable. Not sure how old you are but 5 day shield cricket was trashed because of the workload for the Oz guys (the idea was with 4 day cricket - they would make themselves more available). History has suggested that it never worked out - the Oz players went to the IPL instead. So if the Argus review suggests that Tests are the No.1, heres an easy way for the ACB to prove it. Anyone fancy holding there breath on it :)

  • AKS286 on November 6, 2011, 14:34 GMT

    if mcgain will get next chance then definately m.de vineto also get chance.

  • AKS286 on November 6, 2011, 14:29 GMT

    @dr. qwert mary go round in spinners agree OK. BIG BUT mary go round apply on fast bowlers too pattinson, cumming, butterworth, mckay, hilfy,harris, siddle, bollinger, hazelwood, copeland, hasting, ETC except of MJ can anyone predict the next 2 pacers? some peoples are here if any bowler perform well in 1-2 matches they start saying select mr. X,Y,Z blaa blaa.adam voges is the man who deserve position in test M.hussey & a. voges together solid combination. clark is the one of the unlucky players of Oz. BEER is the best among all spinners in the international level beer must be in test, odi.

  • Meety on November 5, 2011, 22:37 GMT

    When all the Ozzy greats started retiring, Oz was well placed to replace all of them well, for a reasonable period of time, (2 to 3 yrs). McGrath - Clark, Langar - Katich, Hayden - Jaques, Symonds - Watson, Gilchrest - Haddin, Warne - McGill, Gillespie - MJ, Martyn - Hussey. With Lee the spearhead, Oz could of fielded a side that (more "mortal" than previous), but # 1 for a lot longer than they did. Clark & Lee got injured, leaving MJ to carry the can a lot earlier than anticipated, then McGill & Hogg were injured or retired - the spin merry-go-round started - very destabilizing, Jaques got injured & NEVER regained form, he can't even get a hit with NSW at the moment. Haddin never quite reached the batting heights ecpected - I thought he would average around the low to mid 40s - currently about 38. What this has done - to be fair is put the selectors in an uncomfortable position & bring forward some players who weren't quite ready or not suitable to the role, (North was out of posi).

  • Dr.Qwert on November 5, 2011, 3:56 GMT

    is their any consistency in what they say & what they do? Steve Smith, a clearly underdone cricketer picked in a team he wasn't going to bowl in... picked as a second spinner? but as Neilsen said "We need to get these kids in there and give them a run and a chance to get their heads around first-class cricket, and learn." But that aside Krejza should have been persisted with, I said that at the time & hindsight he admits may have proven me right. Hauritz shouldn't have been dropped either, although he'd be better with a pace attack lead by a more steady McGrath or even a Stuart Clark type bowler than Mitchell Johnson (nothing against Johnson) building pressure. McGain deserved a second chance albeit he was 36 at the time.

  • Meety on November 4, 2011, 11:06 GMT

    @Doogius - no worries matey! As for Qadir, mate he was wild! Great Leggie, but sometimes I think he wished he was a pace bowler like Imran! == == == Coulter-Nile is now injured! I reckon he was just about in contention to train with the Test team before the NZ series. This is a massive blow. On the other hand, Cutting has been tearing it up this season, I think he is an almost certain starter for the next Ashes! (Assuming NOT INJURED!)

  • Doogius on November 4, 2011, 8:41 GMT

    @Meety, sorry dude, I stand corrected (and am showing my age :). 1day cricket was the argument at the time. But, they also played bucket load more shield games in those days. The 60's and 70's was when we produced spinners consistently - now we produce trundlers. Warne and McGill were freaks inspired by Qadir. There a little younger than me but when he came here, he inspired a lot of people. I (like yourself I imagine) just want to see balanced cricket, something for the quickie, the batsmen, the spinner. Producing roads doesn't inspire balanced cricket (even if Canberrans deserve it:)

  • Meety on November 4, 2011, 7:59 GMT

    @Doogius - not sure what you meant "...but 5 day shield cricket was trashed because of the workload ..." - but there was never 5 days of play in Shield cricket until Finals from 1980 or 81. However, there were rest days. I am also not sure what you mean by "...if we give fast bowlers a legup - say let them bowl off 18 yds..." I would hate to see a world where only spinners operate, but all I was saying is leave the Gabba etc the way they are, but add a regular ground that is conducive to spin. More opportunities = more chance of unearthing a genuine prospect. As for your thoughts about "Argus review = if your good enough = you play" - I'm cool with that, but if you look around, a lot of spinners get select & are just token in attendance, they're not getting much of a go, anybody can spot instances that are the opposite of what I said, but the long term trend has been away from using spinners in FC games. The opposite is happening in ODIs/T20s.

  • AKS286 on November 4, 2011, 5:35 GMT

    if lyon successful career in SL then what u say about kreja debut against india, SL now a days playing very very poor test cricket. domestic records are very much different to the international. various examples mark ramprakash, robert key, m de vinuto, elliot, mark taylor,KP, kirtley , dhoni, etc check out there domestic & international record.o'keefe & dohertry are the domestic heroes these two never bowl openly in international cricket. they want to hide themselves dont bowl like a spinner. but beer guts and bowl with confidence in the ashes.

  • Doogius on November 4, 2011, 5:18 GMT

    @ Everyone - I can finish the spinners wicket debate real quick. the only world class spinner produced at the SCG (when it turned) was Stuey and he wasn't even our best at the time. MCG doesn't spin at all and look at Warnie. Tim May - SA, Hoggy - WA. You have to go back a long way to find a NSW spinner who could take wickets in most places. Argus review = if your good enough = you play - why should spinners be any different. Now in a 5 day game they actually get to show they are good enough. In 4 days - not a chance. But really, what does it matter. The ACB will go there own way as usual...

  • Doogius on November 4, 2011, 3:48 GMT

    @Meety. So to use your logic - if we give fast bowlers a legup - say let them bowl off 18 yds, we'll have the best fasties in the world. As for Banga - no criticism on them but a world where only spin bowlers bowl is a very boring world indeed. What spinners need to do is be tight and conservative when conditions are against them but attack hard when they're favourable. Not sure how old you are but 5 day shield cricket was trashed because of the workload for the Oz guys (the idea was with 4 day cricket - they would make themselves more available). History has suggested that it never worked out - the Oz players went to the IPL instead. So if the Argus review suggests that Tests are the No.1, heres an easy way for the ACB to prove it. Anyone fancy holding there breath on it :)

  • on November 4, 2011, 1:27 GMT

    @Tom Flanagan: I think what you meant to say is that there IS nothing wrong with Nathan Hauritz ;) He's only 30, seems to be progressing well after coming back from injury (got 7 or so wickets at the WACA if memory serves), and is proven at top level. He's also probably a stronger bat than Steve "Mr Enthusiasm" Smith! And if you're going to play on a nice dusty pitch, play Hauritz and O'Keefe together - the right/left combo would work well together I think!

  • on November 4, 2011, 0:32 GMT

    There was nothing wrong with Nathan Hauritz.

  • Meety on November 4, 2011, 0:09 GMT

    @ straight_drive4 /Doogius - spewing! Another bloody post didn't get thru! I like the idea of an extra day, suggest only scheduling & pay issues would be the only obstacles. What I was trying to say (Doogius) is I agree that spinning wickets don't make a spinner, but law of averages would say that more spin options would be employed which gives more opportunity. I am of the beleif we have good spinners in this country, unfortunately they just get mauled by confident batsmen. If we create an environment that helps spinners more, they should get more exposure on a regular basis. Take a look at Cullen Bailey - IMO, he is an outstanding leggie, but he is hardly sighted through out the season, mainly because there are some pitches its not worth using a spinner on. In regards Bangladesh, I reckon their spinners take more wickets overseas than their pacemen do! I would rate Shakib as one of the 3 best spinners in the game today.

  • on November 3, 2011, 15:57 GMT

    @imtiaz ali ....australia dont need odr players....ECB wants an all nations team....offer dem.....they dont have a pakistan player!!

  • Green_and_Gold on November 3, 2011, 13:13 GMT

    @ imtiaz-jamal - Maybe you should redirect your comments to the ECB!

  • on November 3, 2011, 12:48 GMT

    well i would like to admit that he was a good bowler but he was done in by the excellence of warnie

  • straight_drive4 on November 3, 2011, 11:10 GMT

    @meety - I'm with doogus. I think we need to encourage spinners at shield level more. Like you said - possibly develop a spinners wicket or possibly even just in attacking captaincy like doogus mentioned. I wasn't really agreeing with any of the other stuff nielsen said or even justifying his actions, I'm glad he's gone. I was merely acknowledging that one way or another, good spinners aren't being developed at state level for whatever reason and until they do become available then it doesn't matter what you do at test cricket. I dunno what the solution is, all I know is that there isnt enough "test quality" spinners coming out of state cricket that are ready to be competitive in test cricket. Of course they still need time to adapt to test cricket but the people being picked haven't even learnt their trade yet. Again - I don't know what the solution is, all I know is that something has to be done at state cricket as that is the cause of our problems

  • on November 3, 2011, 10:32 GMT

    They counted on MacGill and MacGill counted on ACB. ACB picked Brad Hogg in front of MacGill and MacGill picked Retirement in front of ACB. He was a awesome bowler. Now good luck stelling with O'keffe and O'Tea

  • popcorn on November 3, 2011, 10:13 GMT

    This is a brilliant, and very revealing article. I recall there was a Think Tank established - Terry Jenner, Shane Warne, Peter Philpott, Ashley Mallett - to do spin talent hunting and developing.They have DONE NOTHING. I do not see CA doing anything about developing this basic requirement in a Test Team! Why only a fast bowling coach? Craig McDermott? When you can have a fielding Coach - Steve Rixon, a batting Coach - Justin Langer, and a Main Coach - why not add a Spin Coach? Who is going to help Nathan Lyon and Michael Beer in South Africa?

  • Leg_Spinner-77 on November 3, 2011, 10:03 GMT

    It's a shame that MacGill's gone as well. Bracks had knee problems which caused him to retire...Wish that Warnie was still here though. But then again, all players will have to retire. Its weird though how tons of great players have retired due to injury. I also think that the youngsters should be given a chance to show their quality.

  • imtiaz-jamal on November 3, 2011, 9:50 GMT

    I want to give some suggestions to CA seletors. Please visit Pakistan young left hand spinner Raza Hassan and watch him closely a natural talent, he is only 19 years old and hasn't played an International fixture for Pakistan, Simply give him Australian Nationality and use him for next 17-18 years otherwise Pakistan will considered him for sellection after the age of 35. Its looking a little bit funny but in Pakistan its totally wastage of talent.

  • gogoldengreens on November 3, 2011, 9:46 GMT

    @ Tristan Kennedy very hard to argue with those statistics - Don't know what Okeefe has done wrong especially considering that he can bat as well - his First Class average (35) is 2 runs behind Andrew "happy hooker" Hilditch first class batting average (37) and 4 runs infront of Hilditch test ave. He must squeeze the team toothpaste the wrong way especially considering he is from NSW where anyone normally walks into the team with a baggy green that is presented in brown paper bag on signing contract - Hooksey is theory is wrong when it comes to Okeefe!!

  • AKS286 on November 3, 2011, 9:00 GMT

    M.BEER is the future of Oz spin attack in all 3 format of the game. beer is again unlucky in SL series. i think that a left arm spinner is more deadly than any other spinner.

  • Reggaecricket on November 3, 2011, 8:52 GMT

    Nathan Lyon's success on his first Test tour in Sri Lanka was limited to taking 5 wickets on a tailor made spinners wicket that the ICC deemed took too much turn from day1 onwards. Michael Beer would probably have bowled as well or even better. I can't see Lyon surviving long as a front line spinner.

  • HatsforBats on November 3, 2011, 8:01 GMT

    @Doogius: an excellent simple idea, unfortunately CA don't like excellent simple ideas. Much like they don't like making the most obvious selections, like picking O'Keefe. It really is getting ridiculous that he's being ignored, I guess Nielsen takes some blame for that as well.

  • smudgeon on November 3, 2011, 6:58 GMT

    Meety, that was kind of scary. Snap?

  • Doogius on November 3, 2011, 6:49 GMT

    @Meety. Creative, but spinning tracks do not a spinner make. Do Banga spinners get wickets outside of Banga - not often. The problem is there isn't the batting lineup to support the 'blooding' of a spinner at test level. Warney himself suggested that because he had captains that were prepared to let him bowl and go for a few, his confidence grew and he became the bowler he is. Hard to do that if your not making enough runs to cover it. If you want a simple way for bringing spinners in on a balanced playing deck, take shield back to five days. No one watches the games anyway so an extra day doesn't cost much and it gives spinners something to bowl on (and trains the bodies of the fast guys for 5 day cricket nicely). Much better simpler idea than the Comets, you must be from Canberra, Meety :)

  • RandyOZ on November 3, 2011, 6:16 GMT

    How can you blame magill hilditch? You are as full of excuses as the Indian fans. What is your excuse for not picking Okeefe? Or giving someone a longer go? You have no idea and I am devastated you are now in the Redbacks fold.

  • smudgeon on November 3, 2011, 6:09 GMT

    NSW & Tasmania regularly play two spinners in their short & long form teams. Dan Marsh and George Bailey have both utilised their spinners well on Bellerive, which is quite well known as a batsman's wicket. NSW have also had success with their spinners, albeit on a traditionally more helpful deck. Meety makes a crucial point: Australia doesn't produce a lot of quality spinners because the conditions don't suit their craft. Heaven help any spinner who decides to learn their craft on the WACA! And Sean McWilliams also makes an excellent point - between Benaud & Warne, there was a fairly dry spell with regards to spinners (Ashley Mallett aside). Having Macgill & Warne playing in the same era was a fluke, and I think it's kind of inflated our spin expectations unreasonably. If we can produce a spinner who takes an average of 3½ wickets per match at an average of 35 and tie up an end when required, we're doing quite well (Haury, anyone?). If they can do better, we've lucked out (again).

  • Meety on November 3, 2011, 6:01 GMT

    Spewing - I had a post that got missed. I think Nielsen is wrong to blame the states on not picking spinners. Oz is a very hard place for a spinner, only 3 overseas spinners since WW2 have averaged sub 30, (Bedi, Laker & G Miller), only 2 have had sub 65 S/Rates both Pakis (Mushtaq Ahmed & Kaneria - would of been better if he had a decent w/k). Hauritz Test average is lower than his Shield, pretty sure Warnie was the same. Oz batsmen dominate spinners in Oz. Some states like NSW have an over supply of spinners & regularly try & play 2 at a time, Tassie do the same from time to time. In QLD- the pitches that have been produced have been mainly green tops - its amazing Boyce has ever played at the GABBA. So the factors IMO as to why we have troubles with spinners are the pitches - & its always been that way. We either have good batting tracks or seaming green tops. In the 80s the SCG was a spinners track, but basically its either a batsmen's paradise or a paceman's delight- no inbetween!

  • AdoSR on November 3, 2011, 5:54 GMT

    I'm wondering why this is a surprise. Of course they were relying on MacGill to be Warne's replacement. MacGill was hanging out for Warne's retirement. And why not. He was probably the second or third best leg spinner the world has seen, outbowling Warne on most occasions they played together. Unfortunately MacGill got injured. He also probably wanted to put it to 'the man' for leaving him out for so long. If that's the case, he got his way. He finally showed the selectors how foolish they were for taking him for granted when they treated him so poorly through his career.

  • on November 3, 2011, 5:46 GMT

    @Tristan Kennedy Could not agree with you more mate. Cricket is a game of stats, they tell the accurate story. O'Keefe will certainly get his chance soon, I'm sure it won't be long till Lyon has 2 or 3 games with little impact and ends up in the spin cycle with the rest, thanks to a quick ill-thought dropping by the selectors. Hopefully then it will be O'Keefe who is given a chance to shine, no doubt he will certainly step up. Basically all the spinners Australia has used since Warne haven't been just over shadowed by their predecessor, I think it's fair to say that many of them were just average bowlers. None have the stats to say otherwise. Even Krejza with 12 test wickets on debut and only 2 tests to his name still has a test match bowling average in the mid 40's, which just isn't good enough.

  • on November 3, 2011, 4:40 GMT

    A lot of people seem to forget, it was a very long time between really top class spinners for Australia prior to Shane Warne's emergence - all the way back to Richie Benaud in fact. They tried a lot of guys, some decent some not really - Kerry O'Keefe, Ray Bright, Peter Taylor, Peter Sleep, Ashley Mallet, Jonny Gleeson, Jim Higgs, Greg Matthews, Bob Holland, etc.....

    I think Nielsens' comment about the states not picking spinners is pretty accurate, and it also requires the state captains knowing how to utilise them. Even at test level, Ponting struggled to use any of his spinners particularly well after Warne.

  • on November 3, 2011, 4:25 GMT

    Steve O'Keefe': 52 wickets in 15 FC matches at 25.13 Nathan Hauritz: 159 wickets in 67 FC matches at 41.63 Michael Beer: 41 wickets in 16 FC matches at 42.34 Jon Holland: 47 wickets in 18 FC matches at 44.36 Nathan Lyon: 24 wickets in 9 FC matches at 45.16 Cameron Boyce: 20 wickets in 12 FC matches at 45.70 Jason Krejza: 103 wickets in 45 FC matches at 47.62 Xavier Doherty: 100 wickets in 43 FC matches at 47.99 Steven Smith: 41 wickets in 23 FC matches at 48.17 Cullen Bailey: 76 wickets in 29 FC matches at 48.19 Aaron Heal: 36 wickets in 19 FC matches at 51.05 Glenn Maxwell: 6 wickets in 5 FC matches at 58.00

    Why, oh why is Steve O'Keefe not even being considered? There must be some reason

  • on November 3, 2011, 4:16 GMT

    I remember in 1998 reading an article in a magazine how warne will be 30 in the next world cup and Australia need to find a new young spinner as warne won't be around forever.

    Macgill and Hogg did good jobs as back ups, but they were only 2 years younger than warnie, so they were never going be long term replacements.

    Warne ended up retiring from test cricket in 2007, so that's 8 years to find a young guy. It probably should have happened in the Buchanan Era

  • Meety on November 3, 2011, 4:12 GMT

    @ straight_drive4 - one way I think we can address this imbalance, is by manufacturing a 7th shield side that plays on a more "Asian" like pitch - or a pitch that decays & cracks quickly. I thought NT would fit the bill out of Darwin, but had it correctly pointed out that the Monsoons would stuff that up. So probably ACT & Manuka Oval. Shave the grass off, don't water the pitch much & let the ACT select 2 spinners at a time. To give you an extreme example of what I am talking about - have a look at Bangladesh FC cricket. They have almost no pace bowlers at FC level, why? The pitches are that lifelless that pace bowlers are only useful for about 5 overs with the new ball. About 80% (guessing) of the wickets taken are by spinners. Everybody wants to bowl spin over there. I say that Cric Oz should resurect the ACT Comets, on a spinners pitch, tempt some players like Bailey, Smith, & Casson to play & I think that over time we will see an improvement in spin quality!

  • on November 3, 2011, 3:40 GMT

    I would still stay that Macgill retired at the right time. 37 is no wrong age to retire as a bowler. This is an interesting phase in Australian Cricket. Rebuilding time. It would be interesting to see who survives the test of time. O'Keefe, Casson, Doherty, Lyon or anyone else. Meanwhile Hauritz should be given regular place in the side. I still feel he is the best tweaker the Aussies have.

  • satish619chandar on November 3, 2011, 3:38 GMT

    But he could never be forgiven for ignoring Stuart Clarke, the like to like replacement for Glenn..

  • on November 3, 2011, 3:37 GMT

    I would still stay that Macgill retired at the right time. 37 is no wrong age to retire as a bowler. This is an interesting phase in Australian Cricket. Rebuilding time. It would be interesting to see who survives the test of time. O'Keefe, Casson, Doherty, Lyon or anyone else. Meanwhile Hauritz should be given regular place in the side. I still feel he is the best tweaker the Aussies have.

  • satish619chandar on November 3, 2011, 3:37 GMT

    The retirement of Stuart was very much premature.. Especially he waited for long time to be sidelined by the greatest ever legspinner.. He could have had a year or two extra.. Brad Hogg too had a very premature retirement at a completely unexpected time!!

  • satish619chandar on November 3, 2011, 3:36 GMT

    The retirement of Stuart was very much premature.. Especially he waited for long time to be sidelined by the greatest ever legspinner.. He could have had a year or two extra.. Brad Hogg too had a very premature retirement at a completely unexpected time!!

  • Meety on November 3, 2011, 3:22 GMT

    @blackjesuz - one of the few things I agree with Nielsen on is that MacGill retired earlier than anticipated. As Stuey hardly played ODIs (retired from List A), it was thought that he could carry on later into his career because he was "fresher". @Ninad Dixit - it was a common thought that spinners can play later in life than other types of players. It's not that long ago that Oz debuted a 38 year old leggie in the mid 1980s (Dutchie Holland). He went on to play into his early 40s. High risk strategy but not without some form of logic. @straight_drive4 - dunno about "states not even giving spinners an extended run". I think part of the problem is that we seem to either have good batting strips or green tops, which mean spinners are pointless. Take a look at QLD, some of the pitches they've had in the last 2 years - why would you pick one? Also Oz batsmen hammer spinners with disdain in Oz. Its a hard place to develop as a spinner. Just look at the averages of spinners in the Shield!!

  • dongles on November 3, 2011, 3:18 GMT

    Incredible. It's insights like these that make me so glad that twits like Nielsen and Hilditch are gone. By mid-2008 MacGill was 37 and half, physically falling apart and more interested in wine and cheese than cricket. How could they be counting on him for any service, let alone 2 years? Surely they should have been planning for life without Warnie AND MacGilla BEFORE Warne's retirement. if they got anything out of MacGill post Warne, that should have been seem as a bonus. I will say that I had not thought of the responsibility of state selectors to give spinners a chance to mature.

  • on November 3, 2011, 3:16 GMT

    Pointless article. Waste of my time reading it.

  • on November 3, 2011, 3:12 GMT

    Right Nielsen !!! In India we got certain Harbhajan Singh who we don't want any more!! Take him for free ... ;)

  • on November 3, 2011, 3:10 GMT

    MacGill took 2 tests to show he wasn't up to it when on the final day in tasmania sangakkara brutally demolished him and they had to fall back an already bowled into the ground Lee.

  • smudgeon on November 3, 2011, 3:09 GMT

    It makes you wonder whether the kindest thing to do after Macgill retired would have been to just play to Australia's strengths and pick the best four bowlers, regardless of whether they were quicks, tweakers, or dibbly-dobblers. I partly agree with Nielsen that some of the spinners just weren't ready, however I think the team & management mindset that to be effective they needed an attack of three quicks & a spinner contributed to this. Definitely not good for an up-and-coming spinner or short-form specialist to be shoe-horned in and then expect him to fill Macgill or Warne's boots. However, persisting with those who show potential is likewise important, and I think Lyon should be given a couple of series (minimum) to show his quality. If he's not performing after that, then they either go to the best-form domestic spinner (they could do worse than give O'Keefe a geurnsey) or pick another quick who can add to the attack.

  • Buggsy on November 3, 2011, 2:48 GMT

    What rubbish from Nielsen, there was no expectation after Warne. The Australian public is smarter than that, we all knew it was going to be tough replacing him and that plenty of time was needed. It was the incompetence of the selectors who held that view, hence the 'we'll keep picking a spinner until we find the next Warne' attitude.

  • thewayitwass on November 3, 2011, 2:30 GMT

    Yes that is exactly right, everyone says australia didnt have a succession plan after mcgrath and warne and thats just not true, Australia counted on macgill to play while guys like cullen and co got experience, but ofcourse that didnt happen, and they expected Lee's body to hold up better and to play test cricket a bit longer while the young bowlers learnt from him and Stuart Clarke, Injuries to those players was why australia slid down the rankings more than expected, it was always gonna be tough without warne mcgrath, but not THIS tough, alot of things were out of our control, ofcourse the selectors showed alot imbecility also, but still!

  • thewayitwass on November 3, 2011, 2:30 GMT

    Yes that is exactly right, everyone says australia didnt have a succession plan after mcgrath and warne and thats just not true, Australia counted on macgill to play while guys like cullen and co got experience, but ofcourse that didnt happen, and they expected Lee's body to hold up better and to play test cricket a bit longer while the young bowlers learnt from him and Stuart Clarke, Injuries to those players was why australia slid down the rankings more than expected, it was always gonna be tough without warne mcgrath, but not THIS tough, alot of things were out of our control, ofcourse the selectors showed alot imbecility also, but still!

  • johnathonjosephs on November 3, 2011, 2:28 GMT

    Australia had this excuse for the last 4 years..... isn't it time to stop making excuses and get their bench strength..... The man was 37 when he retired... What did Australia expect, that he's going to play till he's 45?

  • bobagorof on November 3, 2011, 2:08 GMT

    But all this we did know before! My question is, "Regardless of MacGill retiring early, why was there no plan in place to develop spin bowlers for when you expected him to retire?" MacGill retired 18 months before expectations, yet 3 years down the track they were still picking out of a hat. Surely 3 years is enough time to decide what role you want the spinner to play? And if a proper succession plan or strategy was in place, the next long-term spinner would be ready by MacGill's expected retirement date - end of '09. 2 years after that and we're still not certain if the incumbent will be around for the start of the summer.

  • farkin on November 3, 2011, 2:05 GMT

    just look at the treatment he was given by the team the selectors and you .

  • DarkBatter on November 3, 2011, 2:04 GMT

    Steve O'Keefe anyone? Lyon looks good, but i reckon O'Keefe would do well in test conditions

  • Slobberdog on November 3, 2011, 2:01 GMT

    '...we had young blokes who weren't quite ready and maybe thrown in the deep end a bit early. At different times there were decisions made that it might actually hurt them more to keep going rather than just yank them out and let them play a bit more Shield cricket.' He's speaking in the past tense. Aren't they still doing this? Or does the past mean anything up until the point where he was replaced and it's only just dawned on him that this system might be flawed?

  • straight_drive4 on November 3, 2011, 1:54 GMT

    probably the only time i will agree with nielsen but i think he is spot on about states not even giving spinners an extended run so its hard for the national selectors to see (and judge) them going through the up and down periods and seeing how the handle themselves. of course thats no justification for picking and dropping spinners from the test side every 2nd week but its a good point that we need to fix the problem at state level before we can fix it at national level.

  • on November 3, 2011, 1:41 GMT

    what ! so mr.nielsen blames macgill for the current extremely sorry state of aussie spin department? poor guy spent his whole career under warnie's shadow. he was a very good but unfortunate performer. let him live rest of his life peacefully. if cricket australia were looking forward to a 37 year old as their frontline spinner, it is their fault and macgill's plans have nothing to do with it. just admit that you could not find a spinner half as good as warnie / macgill. shame on you mr nielsen.

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  • on November 3, 2011, 1:41 GMT

    what ! so mr.nielsen blames macgill for the current extremely sorry state of aussie spin department? poor guy spent his whole career under warnie's shadow. he was a very good but unfortunate performer. let him live rest of his life peacefully. if cricket australia were looking forward to a 37 year old as their frontline spinner, it is their fault and macgill's plans have nothing to do with it. just admit that you could not find a spinner half as good as warnie / macgill. shame on you mr nielsen.

  • straight_drive4 on November 3, 2011, 1:54 GMT

    probably the only time i will agree with nielsen but i think he is spot on about states not even giving spinners an extended run so its hard for the national selectors to see (and judge) them going through the up and down periods and seeing how the handle themselves. of course thats no justification for picking and dropping spinners from the test side every 2nd week but its a good point that we need to fix the problem at state level before we can fix it at national level.

  • Slobberdog on November 3, 2011, 2:01 GMT

    '...we had young blokes who weren't quite ready and maybe thrown in the deep end a bit early. At different times there were decisions made that it might actually hurt them more to keep going rather than just yank them out and let them play a bit more Shield cricket.' He's speaking in the past tense. Aren't they still doing this? Or does the past mean anything up until the point where he was replaced and it's only just dawned on him that this system might be flawed?

  • DarkBatter on November 3, 2011, 2:04 GMT

    Steve O'Keefe anyone? Lyon looks good, but i reckon O'Keefe would do well in test conditions

  • farkin on November 3, 2011, 2:05 GMT

    just look at the treatment he was given by the team the selectors and you .

  • bobagorof on November 3, 2011, 2:08 GMT

    But all this we did know before! My question is, "Regardless of MacGill retiring early, why was there no plan in place to develop spin bowlers for when you expected him to retire?" MacGill retired 18 months before expectations, yet 3 years down the track they were still picking out of a hat. Surely 3 years is enough time to decide what role you want the spinner to play? And if a proper succession plan or strategy was in place, the next long-term spinner would be ready by MacGill's expected retirement date - end of '09. 2 years after that and we're still not certain if the incumbent will be around for the start of the summer.

  • johnathonjosephs on November 3, 2011, 2:28 GMT

    Australia had this excuse for the last 4 years..... isn't it time to stop making excuses and get their bench strength..... The man was 37 when he retired... What did Australia expect, that he's going to play till he's 45?

  • thewayitwass on November 3, 2011, 2:30 GMT

    Yes that is exactly right, everyone says australia didnt have a succession plan after mcgrath and warne and thats just not true, Australia counted on macgill to play while guys like cullen and co got experience, but ofcourse that didnt happen, and they expected Lee's body to hold up better and to play test cricket a bit longer while the young bowlers learnt from him and Stuart Clarke, Injuries to those players was why australia slid down the rankings more than expected, it was always gonna be tough without warne mcgrath, but not THIS tough, alot of things were out of our control, ofcourse the selectors showed alot imbecility also, but still!

  • thewayitwass on November 3, 2011, 2:30 GMT

    Yes that is exactly right, everyone says australia didnt have a succession plan after mcgrath and warne and thats just not true, Australia counted on macgill to play while guys like cullen and co got experience, but ofcourse that didnt happen, and they expected Lee's body to hold up better and to play test cricket a bit longer while the young bowlers learnt from him and Stuart Clarke, Injuries to those players was why australia slid down the rankings more than expected, it was always gonna be tough without warne mcgrath, but not THIS tough, alot of things were out of our control, ofcourse the selectors showed alot imbecility also, but still!

  • Buggsy on November 3, 2011, 2:48 GMT

    What rubbish from Nielsen, there was no expectation after Warne. The Australian public is smarter than that, we all knew it was going to be tough replacing him and that plenty of time was needed. It was the incompetence of the selectors who held that view, hence the 'we'll keep picking a spinner until we find the next Warne' attitude.