McGain confident White can step up
Bryce McGain believes Cameron White's legspin could be a valuable tool in the Test series against India after McGain was forced out of the tour with a shoulder injury. White was a late addition to the squad to replace McGain, who arrived home in Melbourne on Monday and is facing four to five weeks on the sidelines.
White is now jostling for a Test spot with the offspinner Jason Krejza, who was mauled by batsmen including Yuvraj Singh in the recent tour match in Hyderabad and finished with 0 for 199 from 31 overs. White has taken less bowling responsibility at Victoria in the past couple of seasons but McGain said his legspin would be effective on the Indian pitches.
"He certainly bowls a little different [to me], a little quicker, and is probably suited to the Indian conditions," McGain said. "He'll be working for the variable bounce, similar to what [Anil] Kumble is, and that's been successful there.
"He's played in the Indian conditions with the IPL and he's got some good recent experience there with the A tour. I think he's well positioned, if he gets the nod in that first Test, to do really well for Australia."
The series begins in Bangalore on Thursday and the selectors must decide whether to play a specialist spinner or rely on pace and the part-time offerings of Michael Clarke and Simon Katich. McGain said the spin decision was not clear-cut and Krejza was a viable option despite his struggles in the tour match.
"He's quite buoyant about what he's doing and looking forward to the challenges ahead," McGain said. "It is tough bowling spin over there, the Indian batsmen love playing it. I know he's working really hard and confident that he can do the job if it goes his way."
Until his injury, McGain, 36, was almost certain to make his Test debut in Bangalore. He knows the problem could not have come at a worse time, although he is hopeful that there will be further international opportunities in the next few months.
"It's bad, bad timing, I acknowledge that," he said. "But I just hope to rest up, do the rehab and be ready to reload and play for Victoria and win games and bowl well."
He first had trouble with the shoulder during the Australia A tour of India last month and did not bowl at all during the Test squad's week-long stay in Jaipur. He was gearing up for the Hyderabad game with some net bowling when he felt a twinge that he now suspects is a tear.
"It's high up in the lat muscle, so it's right up into my armpit," he said. "I guess I've strained my armpit, which is pretty unique to what I bowl in legspin and the way I move my arm in spinning the ball at the top of my release."
McGain's first chance for any international action would be during the home Test series against New Zealand in late November. However, he would first need to prove his fitness with Victoria and he is realistic about how long a comeback could take.
"I probably didn't take the right amount of time [in India]. In hindsight you can say that," he said. "I'll just get it right so that I'm 100% and then I'll start bowling. If that takes six weeks or seven weeks, I'm prepared to wait longer to make sure that I'm right so that it doesn't niggle away for the rest of the summer."
Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo