Poor Ol’ Bryce McGain

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Wow! What an introduction (and exit?) from international cricket for Australia’s new replacement for Shane Warne. In case you missed it Victorian leg-spinner Bryce McGain was ruthlessly murdered by some seriously vengeful South African batsmen in the third test. McGain’s figures read:

18 OVERS 0 WICKETS FOR 149 RUNS

Now, on initial reading that may well look as if the spinner is solely to blame. An economy rate of 8.27 is pretty bad even for T20, but on the test arena, a disgrace. However, all the blame cannot be placed at the debutants feet. As I have mentioned he was a debutant, and therefore was inevitably going to be harbouring some serious nerves. Why then would the Australian captain feed him to the wolves rather than protecting him, and giving him every chance to overcome those nerves by bowling him AT THE RIGHT TIME?!?

By the time McGain was brought on, Ashwell Prince and Jacques Kallis, both batsmen who average over 45 in tests, were well set, and had a belter of a pitch to feel comfortable on. Through the South African innings Ponting stubbornly continued with his one winning formula, bowling out the opposition with his seamers. Yes, this has worked for Ponting in the first two tests, but this time he had a legitimate reason to try out his spinner early on, and give him a fair go. As I have written previously, this test presented a great chance for the Aussies to try-out a few players for the upcoming Ashes series. At the same time, I mentioned that the Australians didn’t want to lose momentum. However, bowling McGain early, and giving him a chance to work his way into an innings (a tactic that every spinner needs employed) was the right way to go. Waiting until not only the opposition batsmen were set, but also until the nerves and uncertainty had built up in McGain’s mind, was the wrong decision. Sure, the 18 overs themselves are generally the problem of the bowler, although some of the fielding positions were questionable. However, you have to give your bowlers a chance to succeed, and Ponting must realise that he is going to have to help bring through a top class spinner at some point.

Sure, maybe McGain isn’t the answer, but I don’t think that any prospective spinner waiting for a call-up will be very exited about the prospects of such limited support that was afforded McGain.


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