Stuart MacGill's life as an understudy has been wildly successful but people are still finding it hard to think of him as the new Shane Warne. After play MacGill was talking about reaching 200 Test wickets when a reporter started a question with: "Shane, with your, er, sorry Shane."
Rather than take offence at the mistake, MacGill accepted it as a compliment. "I must have bowled well," he said breezily. He has performed very strongly in both innings, but struggled for a suitable reward until he whizzed a big-turning legbreak between Michael Vandort's bat and pad to hit off stump. Warne would have been proud of the ball; MacGill was too.
"I was pretty keen just to get 200, so I would have taken it any way, but it certainly beats getting it with a half-tracker because people play it over and over," he said. "I'd rather they replay the good ones. The good thing for me was I felt I'd been bowling well all day so I thought it was validation."
It took MacGill 18 months and 48 overs in this match to add the two wickets necessary to push him to a double-century of dismissals, but despite the delay only Clarrie Grimmett, Dennis Lillee and Waqar Younis have beaten him to the landmark. He is playing in his 41st Test and in the lead-up to the match tried not to turn the achievement into a big deal.
"With Warney having retired, I've got an opportunity to take so many wickets," he said. "Two more wasn't an appropriate goal, but one seemed like an insurmountable task for a while. The fact we were bowling so well and couldn't buy a wicket was why it seemed like such a relief."
Once he stepped from the field he realised the significance of the milestone and called it the pinnacle of his career so far. "Things like this are nice for your kids and your family," he said. "There's not going to be anybody else in my kids' class who has a dad with 200 Test wickets ... I hope. Otherwise I'll have to find something else to do that's cool. I'm really pleased I've given them something to be proud of."
Ricky Ponting used MacGill for long periods at the Stanley Street End as he searched for wickets and continued employing him despite the greasy conditions. Only once, when struck for a four over midwicket, did the moisture affect his grip and the control added to the measure of his display.
"I don't hang on to the ball too tight and I practice with a wet ball," he said. "It seems like nobody ever wants to bowl with a wet ball so if you can learn how to do it, it's a good opportunity."
MacGill's removal of Vandort was followed in the next over by Thilan Samaraweera's departure to Mitchell Johnson and the double breakthrough provided Australia with a surge of momentum. Sri Lanka finished at 5 for 218 and have to score another 123 to make the home team bat again.
"We really needed those late wickets to prove we were bowling well and to stamp our authority on the game," he said. "I feel really confident going into the final day that we can win the Test because we took those wickets."