'Bring back Warne' campaign picks up speed
Former Australian leg-spinner Stuart MacGill believes Shane Warne should return to the test team if he is keen and available for Sheffield Shield duties.
Warne did little to hose down the prospect of an Ashes comeback when he admitted he would consider taking on England if asked by captain Michael Clarke. While the 43-year-old continues to play at Twenty20 level for the Melbourne Stars, the question remains whether he will add to his tally of 708 test scalps.
MacGill, who took 82 of his 208 wickets in the 16 tests he played alongside Warne, believes he is still capable of performing at the highest level.
"I'd play him," MacGill said.
"Should he be picked? If any selector said he shouldn't be picked, that it's not in the best interests of Australian cricket, I laugh at them. I'm interested in Australian cricket winning. Not in 10 or 15 years, but every day.
"You pick your best team on any given day and if Shane Warne is available, then he's in it."
While some critics question whether BBL form is any gauge to test prospects, MacGill has seen enough to suggest Warne is capable of playing the five-day game.
"The only question that needs to be asked is whether he can physically [perform] all day for a couple of days - but he would know that," MacGill said.
"People don't understand that you wouldn't walk onto a field unless you could do it because there's your own ego. I didn't turn up to get belted, so if you play you've got to be on.
"If he wants to play, I'd get it over and done with now. A couple of times he's said he's focusing on the Stars, which is good because they've got an awesome side. But it's time to get it over and done with and say, '[I] want to be considered like any other player.'
"You can't pick him now for the Ashes, but I'd like to know whether or not he's going to be playing so that we can move on."
The dearth of top quality spinners has further fuelled the "bring back Warne" campaign. MacGill said he was "disappointed" with the recent performances of Nathan Lyon and that, on present form, the attack would be better served by an all-pace combination.
"Right from the start, he bowls too fast and too straight," MacGill said.
"That's the sort of thing that you would say Jason Krejza was dropped for. I can't see Nathan Lyon doing anything different.
"I'm a big supporter of spin bowling. I'm not saying Jason and Nathan can't bowl, they're very good bowlers. If I were Nathan Lyon at the moment, the number one thing I'd be looking at is getting my line right. He needs to be hitting the top of off-stump and I'd say he does that two balls an over. It's not enough. I battled with line my entire career - I pitched off stump instead of pitching to hit off - and can guarantee Nathan Lyon that you have a lot more fun when you get it right."
MacGill said there needed to be a move away from automatically picking a spinner for the sake of it. "We've got this thing in our head that we don't have a balanced attack if we don't have a spin bowler," he said. "The only thing that's balanced to me is if you've won a test match.
"In the perfect world we'd have a spin bowler because it gives you more variety, you don't want a sameness. But with Mitchell Starc, Shane Watson, Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Ben Hilfenhaus, James Pattinson, Patrick Cummins, Doug Bollinger - they are all different anyway."