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Cricketers reflect on their lives and times

Stuart MacGill

'Wake me when it's time to bowl'

The 41-year-old legspinner is still fascinated by his craft and knows he can still get the job done. As long as he doesn't actually have to watch too much cricket

Interview by Faraz Sarwat

May 24, 2012

Comments: 49 | Text size: A | A

Stuart MacGill is borne aloft as he exits the Test arena for the last time, West Indies v Australia, 2nd Test, Antigua, June 3, 2008
"I would have loved to have played 100 Test matches. I think my life would be a little different if I had" © Getty Images
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I like that when you look at the number of Tests I took to get to 200 wickets, it was relatively fast, but then in time it was ten years. I kind of like that. I think that's fun.

Shane Warne and I very rarely played together when we were both at our peak. A lot of the time when Shane and I played together, he was either injured or coming back from injury or going into injury. When we did, it was pretty formidable.

Like most kids growing up in Australia in the '70s, I wanted to bowl fast like Dennis Lillee, and I certainly tried to be a fast bowler. Dennis was a friend of the family's and I just enjoyed watching him play and I wanted to be him.

John Buchanan was of the opinion that economy rates won you one-day cricket. I still disagree with that. I think if you take ten wickets in a one-day match, you win the game.

Everybody knows I like reading. My new job is in advertising, and reading is now my living.

Everybody always talks about Muralitharan, but he very rarely got the wickets that Shane and I got in the same environment. He's a very good bowler, his record will probably never be beaten, but you can only judge people when they are playing in the same environment, and I remember very well that Shane completely outbowled him on a tour of Sri Lanka.

Shield cricket in the '90s and 2000s was tough, but it wasn't more competitive than international cricket. You had guys like Jamie Siddons, Stuart Law, Darren Lehmann, Michael Kasprowicz and Andy Bichel playing for their states. There were some amazing players. Jamie Siddons didn't play a Test match and he was a ridiculously good player.

I'm very disappointed I didn't get a chance in the IPL. I know that I can still take wickets and I know I don't like playing cricket if I don't. I only want to take wickets, so from a team's point of view, I'm a pretty handy acquisition.

My dad bowled legspin, so I tried to bowl spin as well as bowl fast. I did both until I was about ten years old. I realised I wasn't a very good fast bowler, so from then on I was bowling spin all the time, and I really enjoyed doing what my dad did.

I don't really like watching cricket. I quite like sitting in a corner with a book. It relaxes me. I think you get very tired watching cricket on a cricket tour. Sitting and reading a book is like being on a holiday. Wake me when it's time to bowl.

There are a number of us who still rate the '98 tour to Pakistan as our favourite. I've been to Pakistan twice - I went with an A team as well.

The hardest batsman to bowl to for a spinner was Brian Lara. There's no spin bowler in the world who hasn't been smashed by him. In Shield cricket it was Darren Lehmann and Michael Bevan. Lehmann was the best player of spin in Australia by a long way. Bevan wasn't too far behind. Lehmann would try to hit you from ball one, really hard. As far as right-handers go, VVS Laxman was right up there.

 
 
"I don't really like watching cricket. I quite like sitting in a corner with a book. Sitting and reading a book is like being on a holiday"
 

Warne and I are both prepared to say that we weren't the biggest fans of Buchanan. You only need to look at New Zealand's experience recently to know that there aren't very many environments that he's worked in that have been successful. I think he was gifted the best team of all time when he was coach of Australia.

When I got my best innings figures in Tests (8 for 108), I didn't come on to bowl until they were almost 200. People say it was against Bangladesh and it doesn't really matter, but they were none-for when I came on to bowl, so it was quite a satisfying haul of wickets.

In Pakistan, we found the people are incredibly friendly. It's clean, the structure is good, the food is good. When you consider that culturally our two countries are so different, we got along with everyone so well and we were looked after so well. I don't like Westerners saying, "Oh, we shouldn't go there", because they don't understand and they don't know how good it is.

The whole Big Bash Twenty20 experience, for me, was up there with some of the best experiences of my life, because we won though we were tipped to finish second-last.

I think I would have been a good ODI player for Australia. But once again if I look at my ODI career, I only played three games but I got six wickets.

Everybody always says that the Australia versus Rest of World game was a farce because the world team didn't try and all that sort of stuff. I know Shane has this opinion too, that he and I bowled really well, and it was no surprise to us that we won the game comprehensively.

Murali was a great bowler but Shane was special in Australian conditions, when you consider that we don't have Asian spin-bowling conditions. Shane was very good - his control was ridiculous.

Dad played a few games for Western Australia, and it was cool to do what he did.

When I started playing first-grade cricket for my club, I looked at [getting] five wickets a game. When I started playing, the most anyone got, when I first looked, was 5.25 wickets per Test. And I thought, "Right, I'm going to go for five", and I ended up getting just under that. That was a really cool thing for me.

I would have loved to have played 100 Test matches. I think my life would be a little different if I had, but if you look at the game historically, 44 Tests is plenty. Forty-four Tests and 200 wickets - I'm very happy with that.

As a spinner, if you're going to get hit in Twenty20, you've got to balance that with a strike rate that's decent. There's no point getting smacked around if you're not taking any wickets. That's the trade-off.

With Sachin Tendulkar, you were very hard-pressed to find an opening, but he didn't really ever get away from me. He made a 200 somewhere, but he occupied the crease, whereas Lara and Laxman would try to smash you and invariably get away with it.

It was actually 17 books, not 24 books that I read on the tour of Pakistan. I've changed it a number of times.

I do consumer insights for an advertising agency. It's quite good fun and sort of like being in university again. They've been very good to me. They let me take six weeks off over the summer for the Big Bash and they let me come here [Toronto].

I find T20 cricket pretty easy for a bowler, provided you don't get upset. It's great for older players. You know that if you get hit for six, it doesn't matter. The batsman's trying to hit you for six every ball, so if you bowl a dot, it's a win.


Stuart MacGill, Shane Warne, Muttiah Muralitharan and Daniel Vettori at a press conference before the Super Series, October 2005
You no match for us, boys © Getty Images
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I enjoyed playing with Warne, and I think it's very difficult for spin bowlers now because they don't get to compare themselves with him. They can only compare themselves with his stats and that's not something they can win. I'm very lucky to have played with him.

There was no question about me playing for another club. If Stuart Clark, the general manager of the Sydney Sixers, hadn't managed to find a spot for me, I wouldn't have played in the Big Bash.

I'm very disappointed at not playing many ODIs. Until recently I was the leading wicket-taker of all time in domestic one-day cricket in Australia. I did very, very well for New South Wales. I got lots of four- and five-wickets hauls. New South Wales won a lot of one-day tournaments - they may have even won five during my career.

Faraz Sarwat is the cricket columnist for the Toronto Star and the author of The Cricket World Cup: History, Highlights, Facts and Figures

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Posted by   on (May 25, 2012, 14:04 GMT)

very interesting interview Stuart's strike rate tells you that he could have been among the best of the bests And I really appreciate him for putting good words for Pakistan. I have thoroughly enjoyed the whole interview.

Posted by Moppa on (May 25, 2012, 9:53 GMT)

Had to dig up some stats to fuel the debate. The fairest comparison of Warne and Murali is looking at their stats against all opponents other than Bangladesh and Zimbabwe (for obvious reasons - @jonathanjosephs, you're kidding, right?!) and Australia/Sri Lanka (because Warne didn't bowl to Ponting and Murali didn't bowl to Jayawardene etc). And the numbers say it was pretty close with Murali slightly ahead: Warne 626 wkts at 25.5, Murali 565 wkts at 23.7. Very similar strike rates, with Murali obviously taking more wickets per test due to lack of support. Incidentally, same stats in ODI (Namibia etc also excluded): Murali 355 wkts at 25.0 (econ 3.98), Warne 233 wkts at 26.4 (econ 4.26). Overall, two handy bowlers. I'm prepared to pay the win to Murali on stats and Warne on flair/impact (good and bad) on the game.

Posted by KK47 on (May 25, 2012, 8:40 GMT)

@Meety: My observations abt McGrath was that he took MORE wickets on friendly conditions in Eng/Aus but I don't argue his greatness. He was one of the best modern bowlers. There has been some very valid points from SeamingWicket and D.S.Wijesiriwardena abt Murali. When you look back at the kind of legacy leftover these 2 greats, its a no-brainer on whom you would pick. Murali's on and off field behavior has been impeccable. He had to carry SL's hopes for more than a decade almost entirely on his shoulders. Add to that unfair criticism on his action throughout his career, more so by ppl like Holding and Botham (ironically both are Cricinfo's 'Legends of the game' selectors!) but Murali has kept his head high though all this and kept on performing year after year. Undoubtedly he will be the person who will never 'fade from memory'

Posted by Shams on (May 25, 2012, 8:13 GMT)

@Mozenrath Tabaqi Anil Kumble himself rated Brian Lara as the best opposition batsman to bowl to (of course he didn't bowl against Indian batsmen) and the biggest challenge :P

Posted by   on (May 25, 2012, 6:07 GMT)

BC Lara NEVER smashed Anil Kumble.Someone tell Macgill. Another thing Macgill bowled to SRT in 2004 when SRT had flurry of injuries affecting his strokeplay. He only came back to his old self again in 2007-08 ironically in Aus.

Posted by Sandeep.M.J.D on (May 25, 2012, 3:31 GMT)

Hats off to those who rated Murali over Warne. I cant believe it if someone thinks that way.

Posted by Meety on (May 25, 2012, 1:14 GMT)

@DS Wijesiriwardena - you are more than entitled to your views. I will pick you up on a comment though "...But it's the minority like Mr. McGill who think warne was any better.." in actual fact the majority of cricket experts (by a long way), voted Warney into the Team of the Century. The articles on this very site, (click on Features & there is a link). The panel consisted of 12 people of which FIVE were of Asian origins. ALL TWELVE voters put Warne in the World XI. Only Sobers & Bradman were regarded as highly. At the end of the day, when you have two greats like Murali & Warne - it's splitting hairs over who was better. BTW - EVERY year, Wisden selects the top 5 cricketers of the year, with emphasis on the County season. Warne was (like Murali) also selected as a Wisden top 5. On the topic of bowling on 1st day v last day - Warne clearly was better in 1st inn (ave 27 v 32) & (S/R 58 v 68). On 4th inn Murali was better (ave 21 v23) & (S/R 50 v 54).

Posted by Meety on (May 25, 2012, 0:18 GMT)

@johnathonjosephs - I would say that over the last 15 years, SL have had a very good batting line up. I understand the points you make, although saying The Don "only" played against one team is not well worded, (fairly sure you don't mean that literally). Keep in mind England was the "centre" of cricket in those days - so The Don's runs were almost entirely scored against THE BEST opposition in the world at the time, which is more than what we can say for any of the modern greats of the last 20yrs. Lillee toured the sub-continent rarely & it is fairly open to some debate as to how that affects his true greatness. The fact is many Sachin fans do trash the Bradman legacy to make SRT look better, & that is 60yrs after The Don last played. @Jared Hansen - I think fielding was the main thing that held Stuey back in ODIs. He was more successful than anyone else domestically in Oz as a List A bowler, but he would have to be "hidden" in ODIs in the field (IMO).

Posted by Meety on (May 25, 2012, 0:07 GMT)

@jevans90 - very good point. Slightly off topic, I rate Kaneria as a near great leggie, imagine what his stats would of been like if he didn't have Akmal stuffing up every 2nd chance he created!!!!! You have mentioned a very significant advantage Warne did have. Matty Hayden was a great slipper to spinners, Mark Taylor & Mark Waugh & AB were all time great slippers & Punter & Boonie up close was massive pressure. @smudgeon - I love MacGilla the person more than Warney actually. I like how he is a bit of a man apart, sort of of the same reason I like Swann. I have long believed that Oz's dip in the rankings was primarily due to MacGill not being able to carry on for the 3 yrs after Warne retired. I think we would of won the 09 Ashes with him. @popcorn - do you know if they've been asked?

Posted by   on (May 24, 2012, 23:40 GMT)

@Chris_P While Warne was a great bowler no one denies the fact that what Murali did for SL cricket and world cricket will ever be forgotten. You might like him to fade away into history but ain't gonna happen. Look at the man. Can you even compare warne's behaviour outside of the field to Muralis? Who do you think is a sporting idol? Comparing their onfield performances are fun. But it's the minority like Mr. McGill who think warne was any better. Mind you this coming from one of Warne's mates. What else was he supposed to say right. Someone mentioned the wisden top 5. Do you realize that Murali was selected the bowler of the century by wisden?

Posted by Meety on (May 24, 2012, 23:36 GMT)

@KK47 - re: Mcgrath taking wickets, he took wickets EVERYWHERE. Check out his stats in India are better than any Indian seamer ever. That being said, the arguement about Murali had "no competition for wickets" IMO is a double edged sword. Warne statistically could of had more wickets per match had he not had McGrath, Gillespie etc taking wickets, however, there is a certain advantage Warne had by the pressure at the other end that Murali did not obviously have. Two things I'd say about that arguement, 1) Vaas certainly DID apply pressure, just didn't get tons of wickets against great batting line ups, so Murali did have some help, 2) To see what Warne is capable of, the 2005 Ashes is a case in point. Oz lost McGrath for 2 tests, Lee was returning from injury (never did well in England), Gillespie inexplicably got the bowling yips, Warney topped the wicket tally averaging 8 wickets a match. This situation is a good comparison of what Warne MAY of been like had he no "support".

Posted by Meety on (May 24, 2012, 23:28 GMT)

@drinks.break - when I started to read this article, & saw that you could comment on it, I had a good idea where this would go, then I saw MacGilla mention Murali, & "....INCOMINNNNNGGGGG..." certainly sprang to mind! LOL! @Zaik Chohan - MacGilla's comments certainly were an eye opener for me! @Aman Harees - well said mate! Early on, I use to bag Murali, but with age I've come to the conclusion that there is no denying he was great (also rate him VERY highly as a human being), comapring to Warne, it just depends on what qualities do you rate more highly as to who was subjectively the "best". @SeamingWicket - mate all valid points (IMO), regarding bowling against the Oz team - 2 things 1) in Shield cricket he is ave was a bit higher than his Test career, (well below Murali's Oz ave), 2) Oz have the reputation of being "poor" against spin. Regardless - as I said above, it just depends on what qualities you rate more.

Posted by   on (May 24, 2012, 23:28 GMT)

@Gavin Bruhn @Chris_P While your argument in it's current state is valid it missed some key points when added make it more complex. In that 2004 series did Murali ever get the chance to bowl in the 4th innings of the match? Warne always bowled in the 5th day wicket and had the most assistance. That's why Murali bowled better than him in the first innings and Warne better in the second. If anything this shows Murali bowled better without assistance. How do you think the man has a great record against England in England and South Africa in South Africa? Ask any bowler if they prefer to play with other top bowlers and you will see that what Murali did takes more skill. He had to carry the Sri Lankan attack. Batsman knew they only had to play him out. With Warne he had the support of the best bowlers and fielders. Also he didn't bowl to the best batting unit of his era. Do a Google search on Understanding Murali for Dummies. There is a article there. @Drinks.break it is fun correcting ppl.

Posted by NonStriker on (May 24, 2012, 22:00 GMT)

I appreciate McGill's dignity. The man could be bitter that he had to live in Warne's shadow but instead he simply appreciates Warne's talents. SCG McGill deserves to be remembered as a great bowler in his own right.

Posted by johnathonjosephs on (May 24, 2012, 21:54 GMT)

If people are going to argue that Murali feasted on easy Bangladesh Wickets, i'm going to have to open my mouth. Surely, anybody of real knowledge of cricket can attest that pre-2005, the Bangladeshis were better players of spin than the English. In fact, I"m almost 95% confident that if the ranking system existed back then, the Bangladeshis would have ranked above the English (similarly to how they once ranked above the West Indies). English was atrocious against genuine spin (even now) and Murali's record proves it. Want proof? Warne averages 27 against Bangladesh ( I thought they were easy wickets!) and 23 against England. Murali averages 14 against Bangladesh and 20 against England (beating Warne twice). But I'm sure you all want the stats for IN ENGLAND. Warne averages an amazing 22 in England, but Murali averages an even more amazing 19 in England. Can somebody really tell me who really feasted on wickets? Just because their English doesn't mean their harder to bowl to

Posted by   on (May 24, 2012, 20:21 GMT)

Really great bowler too bad didnt utilise his full potential ...Thanks for Pakistan comments(its a different place when u really see it ,not by the eyes of the media)

Posted by SL_kamal on (May 24, 2012, 19:42 GMT)

@ Gavin Bruhn and @ Chris_P:If you talk about same conditions,you need to consider both sides.1)Warn had to compete with the likes of Mcgrath for wickets.At the same time it helped him as the pressure was always on the opposition batsmen since great bowlers were bowling at them from both ends.2)Warn had mastered bowling spin on fast AUS pitches while Murali had played only 5 Tests in AUS.On the other hand SL pitches are always spin friendly so Warn had that advantage.3)Murali had to deal with then world's best batting lineup against AUS.Whereas the SL batting lineup which Warn dealt with had at most two world class batsman in a playing eleven.4)Either Murali or Warn cannot win matches alone.Although AUS won all matches in 2004,Warn did not do it alone.It was a collective effort of other bowlers and batsman too. 19 of Murali's 28 wickets were top 7 batsman,while only 13 of Warn's 26 were top 7.Mind you AUS no 7-Gily.So just by winning the matches you cannot tell Warn out bowled Murali.

Posted by johnathonjosephs on (May 24, 2012, 16:21 GMT)

These Warne vs Murali comparisons will stop in 15-20 years. Why? Because the "conditions" theory is pure nonsense. Do we question Dennis Lillee's greatness even though he averaged 68 in SUBCONTINENT conditions? No we don't, because regardless, he was still a great bowler. When our children and grandchildren look at the recordbooks and see Murali 500 in ODI and 800 in Test, I really doubt they will try comparing him to Warne. Its like Bradman. Don Bradman only played Test cricket against one team (England). I know Sachin Tendulkar averages 137 against Bangladesh so does that mean he's better? But do we really question Bradman's place as the Number 1 batsman because he didn't play in more threatening conditions? No, we don't, even though he played a first class team in Sri Lanka and in 2 innings failed to make a 50. Likewise, in times to come, people will forget Shane Warne's name like people forgot Joel Garner's name

Posted by johnathonjosephs on (May 24, 2012, 15:48 GMT)

MacGill's ODI career was phenomenal. Pity he couldn't play more cricket, but thats what happens when you have shane warne, mcgrath, lee, and Gillespie on your team. I don't quite agree with his views on Murali however. Yes, sure the Asian subcontinent does have quite a lot of spin, but so do many pitches in England/Australia. If you look at the grounds where pace is favored over spin, you can see he really didn't do that well over there. Just because its in England/Australia, doesn't mean its not spin friendly, you have to look at the grounds more closely. @Chris_P have you ever considered that Warne's average in Australia might be higher because he was playing Sri Lanka (not great batting unit) and Murali's was lower because he was facing Australia (best team) in HOME conditions? And as for other bowlers, yes, Murali bowled a lot but he had no pressure from the other bowlers.

Posted by smudgeon on (May 24, 2012, 13:27 GMT)

katipur, i think you'll find Warne had been having a poor year (by his standards) and was thinking of giving the game away in 1999 - common knowledge. it's a bit of a stretch to say that it was all Brian Lara's doing.

Posted by   on (May 24, 2012, 13:12 GMT)

Come on everyone. Can we stop the Murali vs. Warne vs. MacGill competition, even if MacGill feels the need. As lovers of cricket, we have all been truly blessed to have such terrific exponents of the craft in world cricket for so long. Unfortunately, the current crop doesn't quite measure up to the standard of these three gents, with apologies to Dan Vettori and Swann, although young Narine from the WI and Ajmal from Pakistan could be the goods ...

Posted by KK47 on (May 24, 2012, 12:48 GMT)

@Chris_P, Aus tour of Ind-2004, Warne's figures: 1st test: 193/4 (Aus win). 2nd test: 125/6 (drawn).3rd test: 103/4 (Aus win).4th test: not played (Ind win).Please explain how the above contributions are 'significant' except 2nd drawn test? Warne might himself deny it! Australian tour to SL-2004, Murali -30 wickets at 21.6 and Warne 26 at 20.01.. you may say Warne did marginally better but surely not 'so far ahead'! I do agree that in Aus Murali's figures don't match up with Warne but remember the kind of unfair backlash he had to face which put him under immense mental pressure. I feel Warne's failure in India is far worse than Murali's Aus debacle considering spin-friendly conditions in India. Coming to wickets against B'desh, is its his mistake that he played matches against them? Would you consider Hayden's 381 against Zim small achievement? Absolutely not. Anyway Murali would have done equally great job against Eng who are hopeless against spin!

Posted by Moppa on (May 24, 2012, 12:45 GMT)

I think the point by SeamingWicket that Warne didn't have to bowl at the Australian line up is spot on. When Murali came to Australia in 1995 and again in 2007 he faced very strong, confident Australian batting line-ups in good form, and hardly looked like taking a wicket. Whilst the Aussie batsmen were not so dominant in 2004 in Sri Lanka, you'd still say Warne had an easier job getting out the SL batsmen of that time. Incidentally, no one seems to mention the same argument when comparing Viv Richards to other batsmen. Completely off topic, but Allan Border averaged 51 facing Garner, Marshall and Ambrose all the time, whereas Viv only averaged 50 and never had to face them! Yet Viv was one of 5 cricketers of the century! Must be based on aura, not stats...

Posted by Drew2 on (May 24, 2012, 11:59 GMT)

He's right - take away spin friendly condtions (and Bangladesh and Zimbabwe), and Muralitharan's statistical superiority disappears. He was a great bowler, but couldn't match Warne when the conditions weren't as favourble to spin. True, Warne had better back up, but when Sri Lanka played Australia, Warne normally out bowled him.

Posted by Chris_P on (May 24, 2012, 11:21 GMT)

@SeamingWicket. Might I suggest if you use stats, use a wider cross section. Both players were outstanding, but Warne actually had better figures against India in India than Murali, and their figures compared in Australia don't make good reading for Murali (average of 75.41!). They had similar figures in SL & England, but Murali had a picnic bowling to Bangladesh taking 89 wickets @16, something Warne didn't have the luxury of. It is pure speculation how many more wickets Warne would have taken had he bowled on the SL pitches Muralia did as their head to head record in SL is very similar. BTW, Wisden selected Warne as one of the 5 players of the century. As I said, I am not denigrating Muralia, who was an outstanding bowler, but Warne's influence on cricket will leave a long impression long after Murali's efforts fade from non Sri Lankan memories.

Posted by cmw2175 on (May 24, 2012, 11:03 GMT)

How can Darren Lehmann have been the best player of spin in Australia "by a long way" if "Bevan wasn't too far behind"? Surely the closest Bevan can have been would be a "long way" behind.

Posted by Chris_P on (May 24, 2012, 10:49 GMT)

@KK47. Again, let's compare them head to head in same conditions, i.e. when they lined up against eachother on the same pitch. No contest. Warne is so far ahead it's not funny. Whilst Murali did a fantastic job for SL, the fact he had extra overs to bowl due to the lack of support at the other end only helped him pile on the wickets. While Warne played, the following bowlers took 200+ wickets, McGrath, McDermott, MacGill, Gillespie, Hughes + bowlers such Kasprowicz & Reiffel, while Murali had only Vaas. In fact, when he bowled in Sri Lanka, that was probably one of the few times where the pitch helped him. He played half is matches in pace friendly pitches in Australia and still had outstanding figures, something no other spinner can aspire to. (Muralia averages 70+) And let's be fair dinkum here, the wickets Murali took against Bangladesh were a gift. All his birthdays came at once when he got to bowl to these guys. Warne's contribution to the 2004 Indian series win was significant.

Posted by indianpunter on (May 24, 2012, 10:42 GMT)

Does pakistan have a coach? Maybe MacGill is angling for that job !

Posted by popcorn on (May 24, 2012, 10:08 GMT)

Both Shane Warne and Stuart Macgill are doping a disserevice to Australia. They should be imparting their skills to the young guys who are faswcinated by the art.Why aren't they offering to coach at the COE or foir the ODI and Test Teams? Do you expect Craig Mcdermott (or his successor) to teach Nathan Lyon and Michael Beer and Xavier Doherty to get better at spin bowling?

Posted by creekeetman on (May 24, 2012, 10:00 GMT)

would still be in my test team, age is irrelevant once the job gets done, and he's still capable of getting it done. a far better choice than lyon or beer imo.

Posted by   on (May 24, 2012, 9:59 GMT)

One thing that really sets Warne and Murali apart is how they fared against the best players of spin of their time - neither dominated Lara, true, but while Murali did cause the Indian batsmen considerable trouble on more than one occasion, in Tests and ODIs, Warne rarely did, even on dustbowls in India.

Posted by kantipur on (May 24, 2012, 9:29 GMT)

Brian Lara truly is the best player against the spinner world have ever seen. Macgill is merely stating the obvious. Who can forgot lara's dominance over Muralitharan. And lara is the only player because of whom Shane Warne was dropped. Warne was dropped during the fourth test in 1999. Add to that his 28 and 26 runs in an over against Spinners.

Posted by   on (May 24, 2012, 9:01 GMT)

I can understand MacGill would be disappointed at not playing more ODIs but, really, Australia under Ponting and Waugh wasn't going to use more than one spinner. And after Warne they had Brad Hogg who ended up being one of Australia's best ODI bowlers period. As has been said so many times MacGill was born in the wrong time to get a swag of internationals..

Posted by smudgeon on (May 24, 2012, 8:54 GMT)

I really can't find anything to like about MacGill the person, and never have. A good bowler, though. i think sometimes we forget how lucky we are to have lived through a real golden era for spin, world-wide.

Posted by jevans90 on (May 24, 2012, 8:26 GMT)

@Gavin Bruhn, you could argue it both ways though. Murali never had the support of fielders of the calibre of Mark Waugh or Ponting, and batsmen were forced to take more risks against Warne, because they knew McGrath was giving them nothing at the other end. I reckon if you replayed the 90s-2000s with Murali playing for Aus and Warne for SL, it would make almost no difference to the two sides' results.

Posted by Chris_P on (May 24, 2012, 8:06 GMT)

@SL_kamal. Stats don't show everything. in the 2004 series, Warne took all those wickets while he had Gillespie & McGrath taking bags of wickets at the other end, whilst Murali was a one man show and had a stack of overs. Check their strike rates if in doubt. Also, whilst the quicks picked up wickets in the first innings, head to head, Warne led Australia to victory by outbowling Murali in the second innings iof every test test. Just think of how many wickets Warne would have taken if McGrath & Gillespie were not playing? Same conditions, check out their stats against eachother in Australia where they bowled in equal conditions. Murali averaged over 70. This is fun, drinks.break!

Posted by KK47 on (May 24, 2012, 8:03 GMT)

Shane Warne was probably the best LEG spinner of all time but mantle of best spin bowler has to be Muralitharan. People who have commented on how Murali had the advantage of bowling on 'dustbowls' forget that great Australian bowler McGrath took majority of wickets on wickets assisting fast bowlers. Does that make him any less? NO! He was still one of the best fast bowlers! Add to the fact that Murali had very little support from the other end shows his ability to get front-line batsmen out regularly. Argument relating to 'cheap' wickets which Murali got is ridiculous. His record against India showcases his control over best players of spin.Also don't forget his ODI career which is way better than Shane Warne...

Posted by SeamingWicket on (May 24, 2012, 7:41 GMT)

All this ridiculous talk about Murali thriving on 'spin friendly' conditions. He was brilliant in England. If Murali played most of his matches in England, he would still have taken a huge number of wickets. And England is a seaming environment. Murali did not have a great record in Australia. There could be mental issues with that. He suffered an immense amount of abuse and harrasment there and it may have distracted him somewhat. Also keep in mind that Shane Warne never bowled against the Australian national team. Murali has better records against all national teams except Pakistan than Shane Warne. There is a reason why Wisden selected Murali as the greatest test match bowler.

Posted by   on (May 24, 2012, 7:15 GMT)

McGiill said that Murali was still a great bowler - all these things are subjectives, so statistics can only half the story. The batsman who you think was a matchwinner and played some good knocks when it mattered may only have an average of 40 odd. Personally, I think Murali was the bigger wicket taking threat and his strike rate is unreal. Nonetheless, I also feel that Warne, who set his own fields, was a more intelligent bowler with better variation. Oh and I'm a Sri Lankan fan. McGill has played enough international matches to be entitled to his own opinion.

Posted by   on (May 24, 2012, 6:25 GMT)

very nice to hear something good about Pakistan from an Aussie, Thank you so much Mr. MacGill otherwise you know...................................

Posted by   on (May 24, 2012, 6:18 GMT)

@anantbio: Your 'status of 'God of cricket'' comment wasn't really needed here..but if you really wanna know about it, ask Allan Donald.

Posted by   on (May 24, 2012, 5:51 GMT)

As far as spin bowlers go, the 90s/2000s produced some of the greatest spin bowlers in the world. The Murali/Warne battle seems to me a contentious one which is difficult to decide, as a captain i would not be disappointed with either inclusion. Muralitharan with assistance from Vaas carried the Sri Lankan attack for years with minimal support, his record speaks for itself. But having watch both for years, i must say the ability Warne had to control a game of cricket was incredible, he played in some of the hardest conditions for spin bowling in Australia where most of the pitches favor either fast bowling or batting, and only Sydney typically provides much assistance for spin. If there is one place Muralitharan really struggled it is Australia. The focus i think is too often on those two, for me too often overlooked are Anil Kumble, Saqlain Mushtaq and Daniel Vettori who for me were amazing bowlers. Particularly the rise of Daniel Vettori who has got better and better with age.

Posted by   on (May 24, 2012, 5:51 GMT)

While on the one hand, MacGill was unlucky to have played in the Warne era, it's also possible MacGill might never have been identified as a possible Test bowler if Warne hadn't shown legspinners could still be effective.

At the same time, while I recognise any elite sportsmen has to back himself, Australia had Warne and then Hogg in ODI cricket, both of whom managed to take wickets and deny the batsmen easy runs (the actual secret to winning ODIs).

Posted by   on (May 24, 2012, 5:31 GMT)

Truley... Pakistan is the place to visit once in life time... People love cricket and respect cricketers. Thanks sturat for respect for Pakistan...

Posted by   on (May 24, 2012, 5:04 GMT)

SL_kamal...Warne did out bowl Murali on the 2004 series..he was the match winner in the series as Australia won 3-0. Warne won many series for Australia against the big sides Eng, Sth Afr, Pakistan and even India. Most of Murali's wickets came on sub continental dust bowls and he played many times against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. Warne played 2 games against Bangladesh and 1 against Zimbabwe. Murali took over 150 wickets against these countries. When he (Murali) played against Australia (in Australia) he averaged over 75. How many series did Murali win for Sri Lanka...? Warne also had to compete for wickets against world class players like McGrath, Gillespie, Lee, Hughes, MacGill (all 200+ test wickets)...Who for Sri Lanka apart from Murali had the ability to take wickets up the other end..Hmmm?? No one. He came on to bowl about the 6th or 7th over of the innings and bowled unchanged for the day. Yes Murali was a great bowler, but better than Warne...PLEASE..GIVE ME A BREAK ..

Posted by   on (May 24, 2012, 4:38 GMT)

I vividly remember the Australian tour of SL in 2004. Although SL lost all three matches they had a lead in each of the first innings and all three matches went to the wire. Warne did really well in the series but Murali did match him all the way. http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/records/bowling/most_wickets_career.html?id=500;type=series .... By the time Warne came into bowl SL had lost wickets each time. Where as Murali was bowling to the openers most of the time. I only remember both of them bowling really well and dominating batsmen. Stats will tell you the same. McGills argument is good about conditions but Vaas would be rated much higher than McGrath by that logic then right? The opposition quality and fielding side also count. Warne was effectively not bowling to the best batting unit of his era. I would loved to see how he did against his own batsmen.

Posted by anantbio on (May 24, 2012, 4:34 GMT)

an exceptionally bowler, unlucky to have played his cricket in warne era. I loved this line "He made a 200 somewhere, but he occupied the crease, whereas Lara and Laxman would try to smash you and invariably get away with it" . Sums up the status of "GOD of cricket"

Posted by SL_kamal on (May 24, 2012, 3:49 GMT)

Mr. MacGill, when did Shane completely out bowled Murai on a tour of Sri Lanka?

Here is the Shane vs Murali wickets in Australia's tours of Sri Lanka.

1992: Shane - 3 Murali - 4, 1999: Shane - 8 Murali - 15, 2004: Shane - 26 Murali - 28.

Refer Cricinfo StatGuru:

Murali: http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/player/49636.html?class=1;host=8;opposition=2;template=results;type=bowling;view=series

Shane: http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/player/8166.html?class=1;host=8;opposition=8;template=results;type=bowling;view=series

Posted by drinks.break on (May 24, 2012, 3:16 GMT)

INCOMINNNNNGGGGG!

Sit back and watch all the incensed comments about McGill's opinion of Murali ... should be fun!

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