Australia was unfazed by the "irrelevant" late inclusion of Ashley Giles in the England squad for the Ashes but Monty Panesar would be more of a worry, Stuart MacGill said on Tuesday. MacGill told The Australian Giles was too defensive a bowler to worry Australia.
"I heard on the news that the English cricket team was very, very excited that Ashley Giles was back fit and available for the tour," MacGill said. "And I was also very excited because that means somebody else misses out on the tour." When asked to expand on his statement, MacGill said that Giles was unlikely to make a significant contribution to England's Ashes series.
"I think the inclusion of Ashley Giles is really irrelevant to the Australian cricket team. Of greater concern to us is their in-form spinner Monty Panesar. He's done a great job. Any suggestion that Ashley can fill his shoes is one for the English team and not for us. I don't really think he's shown any inclination to have the same impact in Test cricket that Monty has already. I think he [Giles] is very, very defensive. Monty Panesar attempts to take wickets."
Giles has played seven Tests against Australia for a bowling average of 51.58 compared to a career average of 39.60 in 52 Tests. In the 2005 Ashes series, he took ten wickets at 57.80.
MacGill also said England's warm-up game against New South Wales, to start on November 12, had degenerated into little more than a "centre-wicket practice" session. The match will not be awarded first-class status as each team can consist of up to 14 players, with no more than 11 taking part at any given time, and both teams will be limited to 120 overs in their first innings.
"The one thing that needs to be said about the game here is that it's not a proper game of cricket," MacGill said in The Sydney Morning Herald. "It's an exhibition match, a centre-wicket practice for the English team, and I certainly won't be approaching it in any other vein."
He said although Australia had adopted a similar substitution policy during the lead-up to last year's Ashes series in England, it had clearly not worked. "I'm not going to be playing this game for them. It's not my role to help them practice," MacGill said.