Stuart Charles Glyndwr MacGill
February 25, 1971, Mount Lawley, Perth, Western Australia
Right hand bat
An old-fashioned operator with a gargantuan legbreak and majestic wrong'un, Stuart MacGill had the best strike-rate and worst luck of any modern spin bowler. His misfortune was to play alongside Shane Warne in an age when Australia, the land of Grimmett and O'Reilly, paradoxically frowned on the concept of fielding two wrist-spinners at once. After showing they could work in tandem with 13 wickets against Pakistan at Sydney in 2005, MacGill hoped - almost pleaded - for more double-act opportunities. Playing seven matches in 2005-06, he dismantled the World XI with nine victims and accepted 16 wickets in the two-game series against Bangladesh. The following season, after injuring his knee on John Buchanan's boot camp, he didn't play a Test, but encouragement came when Warne left international cricket at the end of the Ashes. At 36, MacGill, who entered the ranks of grumpy older men when a 2006-07 argument with a grade umpire led to a two-match suspension, had the most reasons to be cheerful.
However, he struggled on his return to the Australia side against Sri Lanka in 2007 and was diagnosed with carpal-tunnel syndrome. His wrist required surgery and despite hard-working attempts to regain his previous powers, he knew in the West Indies he was no longer a bowler of international quality. Rather than hang around, he called it quits during the second Test in Antigua. In true MacGill style he stepped down with plaudits for his fine bowling contributions, honest personal reflections and a fine for sleeping in.
MacGill stayed philosophical throughout his career, eagerly running in and invariably running amok. He bewitched 53 wickets in 11 Tests during Warne's 12-month drugs ban in 2003-04, yet was maligned for bowling one boundary-ball per over; a shade unfairly, considering that was the standard modus operandi for all leggies pre-Warne. A batting duffer and increasingly feckless fielder, he played only three one-day internationals, winning the Man-of-the-Match award in one of them. Unusually for a bowler, MacGill seldom smiled upon taking a wicket. Instead he let out a roar of accomplishment. "People ask me why I don't smile - it's because it's really hard," he said in 2003-04. "Test cricket's hard ... I'll take a wicket and there'll be an explosion of emotion." It was one of MacGill's many quirks.
He is a wine connoisseur who has hosted a pay television show called Uncorked, and learned later in life to enjoy the taste of beer. The son and grandson of Western Australian state players, he socialised with friends who weren't cricketers in his playing days, and was often portrayed as a thinker, a misfit, the odd man out. It was something he played down, although he once read 24 novels on a tour of Pakistan. But the praise lavished on his decision to boycott Zimbabwe in 2004 because of moral concerns continued an unwelcome pattern: he long generated headlines for being out of the Australian team rather than for his performances in it. He was always prolific at the state level and played key parts in numerous New South Wales triumphs.
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