Ashes 2010: Shoulda Woulda Coulda Stuart MacGill

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84 Days Until The Ashes…

This cricket writer was born in 1984 and despite a certain degree of talent – which peaked at the age of 16 – I never made it anywhere near the England ranks.  Even the county ranks proved too elusive. The same cannot be said about a truly majestic leg spinner, arguably the unluckiest leg spinner of all time. Stuart MacGill had a significant taste of test cricket but not the amount that someone of his calibre deserved. I have vivid memories of him ripping it square [just like Warne and Murali] along with one of the most potent googlies you could possibly see.

On Septermber 13th, 1969 Shane Keith Warne was born. Just a short time later on February 25, 1971 Stuart Charles Glyndwr MacGill was born. The careers of Shane Warne – the greatest leg spinner of the modern era [possibly all time] – and MacGill coinciding almost perfectly. Throw in the reluctance of the Australian selectors to play two spinners in the same side and MacGill’s fate was sealed as a ‘Should Woulda Coulda’ cricketer.

But Just How Good Was Stuart MacGill?

Had he been born outside of Australia, Stuart MacGill would have practically walked into any test nation in the world. His relatively short playing career produced some phenomenal statistics that put him up there with the best spinners of his generation.

Stuart MacGill recorded a strike rate of 54 – the finest strike rate of any spinner during his time. Better than Warne (57.65). Better than Murali (55). And far superior to a host of fine spin bowlers – Kumble (65.9); Mushtaq Ahmed (67.7); Harbajhan (67); Saqlain Mushtaq (67.6); and Vettori (76.9).”

In his 44 tests Stuart MacGill claimed 208 wickets at an average of 29. That’s an average only beaten by the likes of Warne and Murali out of the list of fine spinners outlined above. If you were to multiply out MacGill’s career had he played the same number of games as Warney, then he would have snaffled a staggering 685 wickets. That would have put him 3rd on the all time wicket takers list behind Muttiah Muralitharan and yes-you-guessed-it! Shane Warne. It appears to be a self-fulfilling prophecy this one…

Fast Forward to 2010 – The Ashes and the Battle of the Spinners

Trying to predict this year’s upcoming Ashes is a rather tricky task. One way to go about it would be to think of all the possible match-ups and to see which team has the edge.

The spin department is arguably the most intriguing of these battles to think about. Despite the honours being even between Graeme Swann and Nathan Hauritz in the 2009 Ashes, England fans and management will feel they have the better spinner.  Swann currently has a hugely impressive  average of  26.55. In contrast, the Australia choice of spinner is still somewhat up in the air. They have the obvious choice of incumbent Nathan Hauritz (presuming he is fit) versus the promising but relatively untested leggie Steve Smith.

You can’t help but think that had the unluckiest leg spinner of all time been born say1984 or  a little earlier, England’s potential edge in the spin department most definitely would have been neutralised if not surpassed by the magician that was Stuart MacGill. Oh the what ifs!!!

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