Stuart MacGill could be playing club cricket as soon as next weekend as he aims for a late-January comeback for New South Wales following surgery on his right hand. MacGill is aiming to be ready for Australia's scheduled visit to Pakistan in March, a tour he hopes goes ahead despite political unrest in Pakistan, and will train with New South Wales on Thursday.
"I'm not going to go anywhere if I'm going to get killed but I've got lots and lots of friends who are Pakistanis, both in Australia and over there," MacGill told the Weekend Australian. "I think the lead-up to the election [in February] will be pretty hard over there, as do my friends, but we're not going in the lead-up to the election. I don't even think about it too much to be honest because I know Cricket Australia asks all the right questions."
MacGill has fond memories of Pakistan, having toured there with the Australia squad in 1998-99, right at the start of his international career. He took 15 wickets in the three Tests on that visit and returned to Pakistan last year with an Australia A side.
"I like Pakistan. I find the people incredibly polite, the service level is amazing, I love the food, the pitches are great for me, there are wickets over there for me," MacGill said. "I feel good over there. It is the first tour I played on and I have good memories of it."
On Monday MacGill will bowl his first delivery at training since his surgery for carpal-tunnel syndrome and if all goes perfectly, he will be playing club cricket next weekend and back in the New South Wales side for their Pura Cup match against Western Australia the following Friday. However, after rushing back from knee surgery to be fit for the Sri Lanka Test series in November, MacGill is keen not to make the same mistake again.
"I'm not going to start playing again until I can bowl for an extended period with no swelling," MacGill said. "It's not massively swollen [the wrist] but with a little bit of exercise it swells at the base of my hand.
"What I learnt from the knee situation was that little bit of swelling stops everything from working the way it should." Fortunately for MacGill, the unexpected time off since the Sri Lanka series has also given him time for his knee problem to recover more fully.