Stuart MacGill will play a significant role in Australia's three-Test tour of Pakistan early next year, according to the coach Tim Nielsen. MacGill, 36, will act as a forward scout when he visits Pakistan in September with the Australia A squad.

Australia have not played in Pakistan since 1998-99, when MacGill took 15 wickets at an average of 27 in his first Test series outside Australia. Nielsen said the information MacGill brought back this September would be valuable in Australia's preparations.

"He will get a look at the Pakistan conditions when most of us will be tied up in South Africa with the Twenty20 World Cup," Nielsen told the Australian. "We haven't played there for ten years and he will be someone we'll be counting on to play an important role in that series."

Terry Jenner believes MacGill must assume Shane Warne's place in the Australian team for at least a year to allow the budding spinners Cullen Bailey and Dan Cullen time to develop. Bailey and Cullen will be with MacGill for the Australia A matches, but Jenner said it was too soon for a full-time international promotion.

"Think about Warne, he wasn't up to it at 22," Jenner told the Sydney Morning Herald. "Patience is the key, and if the opportunities arise 12 or 18 months from now, they will be better equipped to take advantage of them.

"I personally think that MacGill is singularly the most influential player in the immediate future because we want the young blokes to have a bit more time." Australia's selectors will not have to make a final decision on the spinners until November when the team plays Sri Lanka in the first Test at the Gabba.