Australia in South Africa 2005-06 February 28, 2006

McGrath misses South Africa Tests

Cricinfo staff

Glenn McGrath has had a difficult summer after his wife was diagnosed with cancer © Getty Images

Glenn McGrath has confirmed Australia's greatest fear with his decision not to tour South Africa for the three-Test series. McGrath will stay in Sydney to care for his sick wife Jane, who is undergoing treatment for her third bout of cancer, and he told the selectors he wanted to be with her and his young family.

While the move gives hope to Jason Gillespie and Michael Kasprowicz of an international recall, it is a big blow to Australia's inexperienced attack which is struggling for impact in South Africa. Shaun Tait, who took six wickets in the ING Cup final for South Australia on Sunday, is another contender in the squad that will be announced early next week.

McGrath, who has 542 Test wickets in 119 matches, said his wife has responded well to her initial treatment and Trevor Hohns, the chairman of selectors, said he understood the decision. "We look forward to seeing him in Australian colours again in the future," Hohns said. It is also unlikely McGrath will appear against Bangladesh in the two-Test tour immediately after the South Africa series, which means the Ashes in November could be his next major assignment.

"Jane and family are still my priority at the moment ... so the cricket takes a back seat," McGrath told Sydney radio 2KY. "To be honest, I've probably written the rest of the season off and I'll worry about cricket next season." McGrath said his goal was to "have a good off-season" and come back in the Champions Trophy in India in October.

The illness was diagnosed during the VB Series and McGrath left the team before the finals and also ruled himself out of the one-day component of the South Africa trip. His omission is already being felt by a young bowling attack, which is now being led by Brett and has lost its opening two tour matches. The next game is the second ODI at Cape Town on Friday and Ricky Ponting and Andrew Symonds are struggling with their fitness.