Sri Lanka in Australia, 2007-08 November 1, 2007

MacGill keen to seize his chance

Cricinfo staff



Stuart MacGill still faces competition from Brad Hogg but would love to play the first Test at the Gabba © Getty Images

Stuart MacGill is keen to grab the opportunity to play his first Test for 18 months after being named in Australia's 13-man squad for the first Test against Sri Lanka. MacGill still faces competition from Brad Hogg for the spinner's spot in the match which starts next Thursday, November 8, at the Gabba.

One of the two is likely to miss out, but MacGill hopes that his experience at the Gabba, where he has 11 Test wickets at 26.45, will be enough to earn him the spinner's spot. "I have always loved playing in Brisbane both for New South Wales and Australia. For spin bowlers, if you beat someone through the air, they're likely to stay beaten. On the slower decks you might find they can adjust, but there's no chance of that in Brisbane - if you do them they stay done."

MacGill, who has played 40 Tests since his debut in 1998, last played a Test in Bangladesh in April 2006. Both he and Hogg are 36 but he said that age was an advantage. "The good thing about getting old is that you've got a little bit upstairs. Things are getting easier and easier for me as my career goes on. I'm able to simplify what's going through my mind, but also my action and fortunately my body's holding up."

Nevertheless, only yesterday he recognised that he was piling on the pounds, although he maintained that wasn't a hindrance, either. "There is no doubt I am overweight," he told The Sydney Morning Herald. "I don't know how far over I am. I just don't feel all that comfortable at the moment ... But I'd argue that, historically speaking, cricketers have proven - as I have over the last five years - that weight is not a selection criteria."

Warne himself has given MacGill his backing, but recognises there is little margin for error, given Hogg's outstanding form in India and on his Pura Cup return. "If he doesn't go that well, Hogg is there," Warne said. "I think Brad Hogg is giving him stiff competition."

If MacGill does play he will have the chance to reach 200 Test wickets, needing just two for the milestone. "If I get a game, then two wickets isn't enough really. I think it'll be a case of 'Yep, that's good, got that - now move on', and look forward to taking more and more wickets. I know for a fact that whoever is up the other end is going to be absolutely at the peak of their powers and that makes my job a lot easier."

One thing's for sure, MacGill and his team-mates won't be underestimating Sri Lanka, who are seeking their first Test win on Australian soil. "This will certainly be a hard-fought series," he said. "I think people are underestimating it to be honest as they are so looking forward to the Indian series.

"Realistically this is going to be a real challenge. The Sri Lankans go pretty hard, they've got some incredible talent with the ball. Chaminda Vaas seems to slip under the radar but he's got over 300 wickets. I think this series could be hard work."

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