India's likely new coach Gary Kirsten says Australia's spin department could be the weakness his players exploit when their Test series starts at the MCG later this month. His comments came as Stuart MacGill said he had no interest in playing Test cricket until he believed he could trouble the world's best batsmen, a feeling that has deserted him recently.
MacGill struggled with a persistent knee injury during the Hobart Test against Sri Lanka but he also had trouble with numbness in his right hand. He is set to have scans on the hand on Monday in an effort to determine the cause of his nerve problems.
"I'm a professional sportsman and have no interest in playing cricket unless I'm going to be challenging the best batsmen in the world, but I'm not convinced I can do that and I won't take the field until I am," MacGill told the Herald Sun. "People seem to assume that I will be taking the field half-done. That doesn't satisfy my requirements, cricket-wise."
While surgery is still an option for MacGill, he would be likely to miss the entire four-Test series against India if he chose that path. Kirsten said whether India's batsmen faced an attack boasting MacGill, Brad Hogg or another spinner, one thing was in the visitors favour: there will be no Shane Warne.
"He was able to fill a lot of jobs for them, most notably his ability to strike and take wickets in all conditions and situations," Kirsten said in the Sydney Morning Herald. "Now there is a possibility that Australia may play an inexperienced spinner, and I'm sure the Indian batsmen will look to put pressure on whoever that turns out to be."
Kirsten appears set to accept the India coaching job on Monday, which would make the Australia visit his first Test tour with the squad. He said while India's batsmen could draw some confidence from Australia's slow-bowling concerns, they could not write off the attack because of one question-mark.
"I'm always very wary of an Australian team that seems to have a few holes in it," Kirsten said. "They have plenty of depth and in a lot of cases have the players to replace those who have left. Someone like Hogg is a good example, having played a lot of one-day cricket, and he could do a good job. Still, there seems to be uncertainty there, so you have to look at it."
Although MacGill does not have much time to prove his fitness ahead of the Boxing Day Test, he still has the support of his captain Ricky Ponting. "Obviously he's not playing the [Pura Cup] game in Melbourne today, so he's giving himself a chance to get fit," Ponting told AAP. "I hope that he comes up, because he's a match-winning bowler for us."