'An impossible act to follow'
The cricket world has been cautioned not to expect too much of the young spin bowlers who will be the long-term replacements for Shane Warne. Terry Jenner, Warne's mentor, said the next generation of Australian spinners, including Dan Cullen, Cullen Bailey and Nathan Hauritz, could not be asked to immediately become matchwinners like Warne.
"Because Shane has raised the bar so high people expect a lot of young legspinners now," Jenner told the Herald Sun. "People are expecting them not only to be able to bowl like Shane but to do it from age 14 - they forget he had to battle when he first played Test cricket."
Jenner said in the short-term Stuart MacGill could fill the void left by Warne, which might allow the younger spinners time to develop before they are called into the Test team. "The bonus for the youngsters coming through is they will have 12 to 18 months grace while Stuey MacGill plays before they have to step up," he said.
"With the greatest respect to Stuey at least, for those who follow him and are compared to him, he is a normal human being who will have good and bad days. He will dominate on some days and will get hit out of the attack on others which didn't really happen to Shane, who would be an impossible act to follow."
Michael Atherton said the England team of the 1990s suffered similarly when allrounders were compared to Ian Botham, who had recently retired. "There were many allrounders who suffered under comparisons with Beefy, all of them until Andrew Flintoff really," Atherton said. "I suppose the thing to say is that you are not going to find many who stand up to the comparison. I guess the danger is every time a legspinner comes along, Shane Warne will be mentioned. That's unrealistic."
Richie Benaud said although there were a number of promising slow bowlers in Australia, it was hard to predict how they would handle the pressure. "There are a lot of good young spinners around but just think for a moment what will be on the one who is chosen to replace Warne," Benaud said. "It will all be the 'new Warne', you can be guaranteed that. There will be headlines five centimetres high. There are plenty around. It's just whether they can handle it."