Brad Hogg should not be written off at Test level after a disappointing series against India, according to Shane Warne. Hogg struggled in his first Tests for four years, collecting eight wickets at 60.12, and he was at times outbowled by the part-timers Andrew Symonds and Michael Clarke.
However, Warne said it was important to remember that Hogg was not the only frontline slow bowler to have battled against the proficient India batsmen in recent years. He said that if Stuart MacGill recovers from his wrist surgery in time Australia should choose Hogg, MacGill and a young spinner to visit Pakistan in March.
"I wouldn't be writing Hoggy off because I'm sure it's not the last we'll see of him in Test cricket," Warne told the Courier-Mail. "Hoggy probably didn't bowl as well as he would have liked.
"Things didn't go his way and India played well against him. The problem for him was he was bowling against the best players of spin in the world. India have eaten up Murali and the best spinners in the world."
Warne's comments are backed up by statistics. Warne himself managed 43 wickets at the unflattering average of 47.18 in his 14 Tests against India, while MacGill had a disappointing series last time India toured Australia, when he claimed 14 victims at 50.78.
Although Australia's spin stocks are not as bountiful as the batting and fast-bowling ranks, Warne said the selectors did have options. Bryce McGain, who at 35 has taken over as Victoria's leading legspinner, could yet receive a surprise call-up.
"I had a session with Bryce McGain recently," Warne said. "I think Australia could do a lot worse than pick him because I think he is an extremely good bowler."
Warne spent time in Brisbane this week in his new role as a spin coach with Cricket Australia, and he said if young slow bowlers are to come through the ranks state captains must stop using spin as an afterthought. In the past couple of seasons Tasmania and Queensland in particular have relied heavily on fast bowlers, while South Australia and Victoria have occasionally chosen teams with no frontline spinner.
"I have to work with captains so I can talk to them tactically about how to use the spinners best and about how spinners feel in different situations," Warne said. "Unfortunately it's very hard to be a spin bowler in this day and age."