Stuart MacGill: ‘Perhaps, Shane Warne was my destiny’

Former Australia leg-spinner Stuart MacGill says he didn’t see Shane Warne, the more famous exponent of the art, as his rival during their playing days.

Stuart MacGill took 208 wickets in 44 Tests for Australia in a 10-year career.   -  AFP

This Aussie could cause a lot of damage with his flight, dip and bounce. And despite competing with a legend, left his imprint on world cricket.

Stuart MacGill’s 208 wickets in just 44 Tests came at a stunning strike-rate of 54.00. And he could run through sides — the leg-spinner had 12 five-wicket innings and two 10-wicket match hauls. Yet, MacGill largely played for Australia when Shane Warne was injured or was out for disciplinary reasons. Of course, there were a handful of occasions when the two played together in Tests.


The 47-year-old MacGill, speaking to Sportstar, here on Thursday, said “I didn’t think of Warnie as a rival. Perhaps, he was my destiny. He put leg-spin on a pedestal and I got noticed.”

Talking about his craft, MacGill said, “For me it was more over-spin. I would flight the ball, then there would be drop and bounce. I wanted to get batsmen playing forward and then get them to realise they are not quite there.”


The versatile MacGill said, “I had the leg-spinner, the wrong-one, the slider and the top-spinner. Got a lot of wickets with the top-spinner. Used the googly mostly against [the] tail.”

West Indian Brian Lara was the best batsman he bowled at. “He used his feet, had supple wrists and used to smash the spinners.”

‘Perfectionist’ spinner

The Aussie learnt leg-spin from his father Terry MacGill. The determined MacGill honed his skills with countless hours of practice. He had this reputation for being temperamental too. “I was a perfectionist. When I was not happy with my own bowling, I used to get angry at myself. It was not directed at anyone else.”

MacGill was impressed with left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav. “The good thing about him is that he is trying to take wickets all the time.”

Spin partners: Stuart MacGill (left) and Shane Warne were contemporaries. Photo: Getty Images


Predictably, he was “extremely disappointed” with the Australian batting in the series. “And this is the best bunch of batsmen we have in Australia, save Smith and Warner.”

Lyon the best

Off-spinner Nathan Lyon was the finest spinner in world cricket now, he said. “There is work on the ball and you can see the ball fizz through the air. But it’s unfortunate that Ashwin is injured. He was beginning to bowl well in Australia with over-spin and bounce.”

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And he was delighted with mystery spinner C. V. Varun — he went for a whopping ₹8.4 crore in the IPL auction — rating him ahead of Warne. “I read the things he said about me. It made me very happy. I saw some of his videos. He does have very good variations.”

See him walk around the Bradman-Noble stand at the SCG and you realise how popular MacGill still is.

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