Shane Warne has backed Bryce McGain as the best spinner in Australia and Stuart MacGill says McGain should also have toured the West Indies this year. But the champion legspinners disagreed on whether Beau Casson should have joined him in the squad to visit India and Warne said a potential mauling by India's batsmen could have wrecked Casson's future prospects.
McGain, 36, is almost certain to become Australia's oldest Test debutant in 24 years after being named with the Tasmanian offspinner Jason Krejza in the 15-man squad for the four Tests in India. McGain was the leading spinner in the Pura Cup last season but was overlooked for the Caribbean trip, where Casson debuted after MacGill's unexpected retirement.
"I don't see it as a backwards step that Beau Casson is gone," Warne told the Daily Telegraph. "This is a tour of India and they have really good players of spin and we don't want to ruin anyone."
Warne spent time with McGain at the MCG indoor nets about a month ago and McGain picked Warne's brain about tactics in India. He put those plans into place in last week's Australia A game in Bangalore and is keen for another chat to Warne, who has full confidence in McGain as a Test player.
"If you look at the spinners at the moment in Australia, he [McGain] is the best," Warne said. "He has slowed his pace down and is spinning it beautifully. Being 36 is an advantage for him experience-wise, and he has basically played club cricket once a week for most of his career so his body isn't a worry."
MacGill agreed that McGain was a fitting candidate for the India tour. It was the mid-series departure of MacGill in the Caribbean that created Australia's latest spin conundrum and he said McGain was unlucky not to already be an international player.
"I'm very pleased for Bryce, because this should have been his second tour," MacGill told the Sydney Morning Herald. "If I had known that by the middle of the [West Indies] tour I would be impeded by injuries and have to pull out mid-series, I would never have gone. He's worked his arse off for this."
However, MacGill said he felt for his New South Wales team-mate Casson, who was overlooked as the selectors wanted one wrist-spinner and one finger-spinner. It was a familiar story for MacGill, who never played a Test in India and missed out on the 2004-05 trip when the offspinner Nathan Hauritz made his debut.
"I probably suffered in a very similar way," MacGill said. "I am uncomfortable with the general assumption that offies are better suited than leggies in India. It was frustrating for me, because I never found out how I would go, and I assume it's the same for Beau now. Everybody hates being put in a box."