Warne backs late-bloomer McGain in India series

Updated: 19 September 2008 17:52 IST

Shane Warne is backing Bryce McGain as Australia's best leg-spinner despite being set to make his Test debut in India next month at the unlikely age of 36.

Warne backs late-bloomer McGain in India series

Sydney:

Shane Warne is backing late-bloomer Bryce McGain as Australia's best leg-spinner despite being set to make his Test cricket debut in India next month at the unlikely age of 36.

"Bryce who?" was the response from media and fans after the Victorian wrist-spinner's selection in the 15-man squad for the four-Test Indian tour starting next month.

But Warne says fellow Victorian tweaker McGain is the best on the contemporary Australian cricket scene.

"If you look at the spinners at the moment in Australia - he is the best," Warne said. "He has slowed his pace down and is spinning it beautifully.

"Being 36 is an advantage for him experience wise and he has basically played club cricket once a week for most of his career so his body isn't a worry."

Australian cricket is still searching for a spinner to fill the considerable vacuum left by the retirement of Warne last January after a brilliant 15-year Test career of 708 wickets.

A Test series on baked Indian pitches is a supreme challenge for an aspiring visiting spin bowler and McGain faces the prospect of bowling to a batting line-up featuring Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and V.V.S. Laxman.

"I guess I don't really understand when to give up and I'm happy that this has come," McGain said of his selection.

"My age aside, I hope to do this not just for one Test, but hopefully for a few years to come.

"It's a mighty challenge, they're good players of spin.

"With the years preceding, I'm very calm about what I do and I know what I can do very well - I will just put that into play."

McGain's debut may yet be scuppered, with Cricket Australia conducting a review of security in India after a series of bomb blasts in the capital New Delhi on Saturday that killed more than 20 people.

McGain got the selectors' nod on Friday on the back of 54 wickets at 34.31 in 16 Sheffield Shield matches for Victoria since 2002.

Although not the oldest Australian Test debutant -- that belongs to Don Blackie at the age of 46 in 1928 -- McGain has drawn plenty of parallels with another seasoned leg-spinner Bob Holland.

'Dutchy' Holland debuted for Australia at 38 in the West Indies in 1984 and went on to take 34 wickets in 11 Tests until his last appearance in 1986.

McGain took 3-51 from 17 overs earlier this month playing for Australia A against India A at Bangalore, the venue for the first Test from October 9-13.

McGain, who sought Warne's counsel in his elevation to the higher ranks, suffered a shoulder injury during the Australia A tour of India, but is confident of bowling again soon.

Topics : Cricket Sreesanth
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