Australian spinner Stuart MacGill was one of the most talented bowlers of his generation but played less than 50 Test matches.
A question that former Australian cricketer Stuart MacGill must be tired of hearing is ‘do you ever wonder what your career would have been like if Shane Warne didn’t exist?’
The reason it is asked so frequently is that one suspects he probably does wonder that quite a lot and although he is diplomatic in his answers, sometimes he must wish Shane Warne hadn’t existed.
This is because MacGill happened to flourish as a talented spin bowler in Australia at the same time as possibly the best spinner that has ever lived was at his peak.
Shane Warne had already bowled “that ball” to Graham Gooch by the time MacGill came onto the international scene in 1998 and Warne was fast becoming the most feared spin bowler in Test history.
If MacGill had been playing at a different period of time or had a different nationality then he would have more than likely walked straight into the Test team. As it was he was competing with the man who would go on to be the second highest wicket-taker in Test cricket, with 708 wickets.
It is an unwritten rule in cricket that the captain generally only picks one spinner in the Starting XI. Unless conditions dictate so, such as those in the sub-continent, it is preferred to line up with mostly seam and pace bowlers in the lower order.
So if like Stuart MacGill you have the unfortunate role of being second best behind the best spinner in history, despite being a brilliant bowler yourself, then you can consider yourself very unlucky.
This is to take nothing away from the distinguished Test career MacGill had despite being in Warne’s shadow.
The former Somerset and Nottinghamshire bowler took 208 wickets in 44 Test matches at an average of 29.02. These statistics are hardly something to be ashamed of but many guess that MacGill wonders what could have been if his talent had been properly utilised on the international stage.
Although it can never be said for certain, it is believed by many that if Shane Warne had never played the game then Stuart MacGill would have taken at least 500 Test wickets.