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Stuart MacGill says he does not want to retire ahead of the Boxing Day Test, although he concedes it will be a challenge to be fit by the time the match starts in just over a month. Alex Kountouris, the team physio, said MacGill was running out of time to improve his fitness but MacGill promised he would do his best to be ready for the first Test against India.
"I don't want to retire," MacGill told the Courier-Mail. "It's a dodgy time but I'm acutely aware that nothing will satisfy me in life like staring down a batsman. Retiring means finding something else to stimulate my competitive instincts and, right now, nothing else can do that."
However, the Age quoted an unnamed Australia player who said the team would not be surprised if MacGill decided his time had come. "My feeling is that he'll retire," the anonymous team-mate told the paper. "Most of us are thinking that. He didn't say anything specifically, but it was just a feeling we got after Hobart."
With five weeks to go before the Boxing Day Test, MacGill is hopeful that his injured knee can improve and he played down reports of being given deadlines by the team management. "It was only five weeks between my surgery and the first Sri Lankan Test so that should be long enough," MacGill told the Australian.
"Nobody has said 'you have to do this' because I don't have to do anything - the situation is, if I don't do it, I'm out. If I want to play, I have to be fit by that date and that's a cold, hard fact."
MacGill may yet play in New South Wales' Pura Cup match which begins next Friday, although it is more likely he will turn out for the Blues in their following game which starts on December 14. He has been told that playing in either of the four-day matches could further hamper his recovery from knee surgery, following two Tests in a fortnight against Sri Lanka.
"I am not completely ruling myself out," he said of the match against Victoria. "Even if my priority is to play for Australia I will be touring with the New South Wales team because the people that know me best are there."
While MacGill's future is unclear his closest rival for the spot, Brad Hogg, will have the chance to keep his name in lights for Australia during the Chappell-Hadlee ODIs in December. Although Hogg has not played a Test for four years, he says he would be ready to step in - and is in good shape. "I am just feeling as though I am putting the ball where I want to," Hogg said in the Herald Sun. "I can't really comment on other things.
"Stuey has got that position at the moment. It's unfortunate where he is physically at the moment but he has got time to get right. His record is outstanding at Test level. He has obviously got the right to be in position where he is now to have that opportunity."
MacGill maintained that he didn't go into the second Test struggling and only began to suffer from discomfort in his right knee during the match. "I would never go into a Test knowing I was going to leave the captain a bowler short," he said. "I couldn't. Even if you go beyond responsibility to the team, I wouldn't do it to myself; sport's not about setting yourself up for a failure, it's never entered my mind to just play."
He admitted he was disappointed with the way he bowled to Kumar Sangakkara, who struck a magnificent 192 in the second innings. "When I play against players like that, I want to make sure I am firing on all cylinders because I want them to know. I haven't achieved what I wanted to achieve there - that's a massive bummer."