MacGill retirement could open door for Warne

Published: Monday, June 2, 2008, 15:08 [IST]
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Sydney: The sudden retirement of Australian leg-spinner Stuart MacGill over the weekend could see bowling great Shane Warne come out of international retirement, cricket commentators said Monday.

MacGill called quits on his 44-Test career Sunday midway through the second Test against the West Indies in Antigua after admitting that at 37 he was no longer up to the rigours of international cricket.

The veteran, who spent much of his playing career in Warne's considerable shadow, only made the Australian tour of the Caribbean after overcoming serious knee and wrist injuries.

Only last month Warne, who retired from international cricket following the fifth Test against England in Sydney in January 2007 with a then world record 708 Test wickets, raised the prospect of playing again for Australia.

Warne, a year older than MacGill at 38, reportedly said: "If Australia really needed me and there was no-one else around, and (captain) Ricky Ponting thought I could do the job, you would weigh up the options.

"If Stuey MacGill fell over and broke his leg, and there were no other spinners around, and Ricky came out and said, 'Mate, can you please help us out for this one-off tour? We need you', that is something I would weigh up.".

Former Australian leg-spinner and radio commentator Kerry O'Keefe said Warne, who has been playing in the domestic Indian league, could well make a shock international return.

"He definitely could come back," O'Keefe said Monday. "I think it's now going to be a possibility if he has a desire to do it.

"Obviously, he has to come back and play first-class cricket... and whether or not the grind of Test cricket as a player, and not a captain, is as attractive for him, we're going to find out I guess, because this will generate a lot of interest now.

"I think Warney would be worth a phone call, just asking 'what's doing Shane?'"

Warne has admitted he misses playing international cricket and said that he would be up to the task of returning to the top level if called upon.

"If I wanted to keep playing I don't think there would be an issue with me being the No.1 spinner and performing," Warne told an Australian newspaper last month.

"I would still love to be playing international cricket, and miss it because I devoted 20 years to first-class cricket. It is a big part of my life."

Australian selectors now have to decide who will be the team's first-choice spinner for Australia's four-Test tour of India in October following the retirements of MacGill and Brad Hogg.

MacGill said he will play out the current Antigua Test, with young left-arm spinner Beau Casson likely to make his debut in the third and final Test starting in Barbados next week.

Australian selectors had hoped MacGill could provide a bridge between the retirement of Warne and the emergence of a new frontline spinner but, just eight Tests into the post-Warne era, no obvious heir apparent has appeared.

MacGill said the fear of not playing his best cricket was at the back of his retirement decision.

"Unfortunately, now my time is up. As I said many times last summer, there is no way I will ever walk onto a cricket field unless I can guarantee that I can dismiss top order batsmen consistently," MacGill said.


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