MacGill stuns Aussies with retirement

Published: Monday, June 2, 2008, 1:16 [IST]
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St John's: Australia leg-spin bowler Stuart MacGill will retire from international cricket following the second Test against West Indies here.

The surprising announcement came from an Australia team spokesman on Sunday, after heavy overnight and early morning rain delayed the start of play at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground.

The 37-year-old MacGill has failed to recover from wrist surgery, after he was diagnosed with carpal-tunnel syndrome last year, and he has failed to make an impact in the series.

MacGill indicated a number of factors had contributed to his decision to retire, but he felt he was not performing at his optimum.

"Unfortunately now my time is up," MacGill said in a Cricket Australia (CA) statement. "One of the treats for a bowler playing Test cricket is that you have a champion bowling up the other end.

"Bowling with some of crickets all time greats such as Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Jason Gillespie and Brett Lee has made my job a lot easier. I want to be sure that exciting young bowlers like Mitchell Johnson enjoy the same privilege.

"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.

"The prospect of letting myself and the team down is simply not an option. I have worked way too hard for too long to sabotage my achievements by playing Test cricket for the wrong reasons."

MacGill has the best strike-rate of any modern spin bowler, but it was unfortunate that he was to play alongside iconic leg-spin bowler Shane Warne, who retired last year, and the Australian selectors felt fielding two wrist-spinners was more a luxury than a necessity.

But he'll still end his career with quite an impressive record. Prior to this match, MacGill had played 43 Tests for Australia, taking 207 wickets at an average of 28.28 and a strike rate of 53.1.

He made his Test debut against South Africa in Adelaide during the 1998 season and during his highly successful career had best match figures of 12 for 107 with eight for 108 being his best performance in an innings.

"Over the past six months, I have experienced enough highs and lows to fill a lifetime," he said.

"My 200th Test wicket couldn't have been scripted any better. I will never forget the happiness I felt when my family welcomed me at the hotel that night, yet the very next week I was filled with the pain and disappointment of injury.

"Although I considered retirement at the time, I decided to prove to myself that I could rise again and trained privately harder than I have done in years.

"When I bowled Brad Hodge in the Pura Cup final I knew that despite the often suffocating public scrutiny I loved my job. I also knew that I was ready to play Test cricket again."

But MacGill has failed to bowl with consistency so far in the Caribbean, prompting his surprise decision to retire.

"I am incredibly lucky that as well as providing me with amazing opportunities off the field, my job allows me to test myself in one of Australia's most highly scrutinised sporting environments," he said.

"The instant you take a wicket a volcano of emotion erupts inside you, but you have to quickly put the fire out and start again. This feeling is the only reason I play cricket."

MacGill disclosed he was not worried about the future of spin bowling in Australia, and identified Beau Casson, a member of the touring party, as a bright prospect.

"My game improved exponentially with each step up I made, and I am sure that any of the young spinners playing state cricket will thrive given the same opportunities," he said.

"I am very excited for Beau Casson, another Western Australian boy who made a very good move east."

Cricket Australia Deputy Chairman Jack Clarke, currently in the West Indies said MacGill had been a great player for Australia.

"While it is a sad occasion to see Stuart MacGill depart the game, Australia has been incredibly lucky to have two brilliant leg-spinners on the international scene at the same time," he said.

"Stuart's record at international level is quite outstanding with over 200 Test wickets and he will depart this Australia side as one of the greats of the game."

MacGill is yet to make a decision on whether he will continue to play interstate cricket with New South Wales.

A replacement player will not be sent from Australia for the remaining Test match to be played in Barbados.


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