Fri, Nov 02, 2007 - Page 22 News List

Spinners battle for Aussie Test slot

AFP , SYDNEY

Stuart MacGill faces a battle with Brad Hogg for the leg-spinner's role in the Australian team for next week's opening Test against Sri Lanka in Brisbane.

MacGill, who has waited years for Shane Warne to make way, was yesterday included in a 13-man squad along with Hogg for next Thursday's Test at the Gabba.

Chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch said his panel could not split Hogg and MacGill for the spinner's berth at this stage.

"We are replacing probably someone who will never be replaced in Shane Warne," Hilditch said yesterday. "But in Stuart MacGill we're really confident, he's obviously a class leg-spinner with a great Test record."

"Brad Hogg has really put his hand up and done everything right both in one-day cricket and probably more importantly in his last match for Western Australia," he said.

MacGill has claimed 198 wickets in 40 Tests but received mixed reviews for his 3-183 and 1-97 for New South Wales in this week's Sheffield Shield match against Queensland, while Hogg took 8-83 in Western Australia's Shield win over Victoria.

"I think this series could be hard work," MacGill, 36, said yesterday.

"I'm getting old. However, the good thing about getting old is that you've got a little bit upstairs."

"Things are getting easier and easier for me as my career goes on. I'm able to simplify what's going through my mind, but also my action and fortunately my body's holding up," he said.

MacGill is a proven wicket-taker in Tests.

"I have always loved playing in Brisbane both for New South Wales and Australia. I think [groundsman] Kevin Mitchell makes great pitches and the prospect of playing an international game on one of his pitches is pretty exciting," MacGill said.

Hilditch said the squad will be reduced to 12 next Wednesday.

Phil Jaques will get his first opportunity to partner Matthew Hayden at the top of the batting order following Justin Langer's retirement from Test cricket earlier this year.

Four fast bowlers were also named in the squad -- Stuart Clark, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee and Shaun Tait.

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