Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Shane Warne was employed by Aussie cricket authorities as something of a 'spin ambassador'.

Well, he’s just offered his first piece of advice. Cricket Australia should act immediately and implement it.

Warne suggests the Aussies should take as many as four spin bowlers in the upcoming tour of Pakistan, as a way of finding and fast-tracking his own successor.

With Stuart MacGill – who turned 37 this week - injured during India’s tour of Australia, the Baggy Greens turned to one-day specialist Brad Hogg to fill the void. He did so admirably - but he, too, is 37 and not the long-term answer.

Andrew Symonds and Michael Clarke have both been handy (especially Clarke in Sydney) with the ball, but this is a job for a specialist.

I remember watching and meeting Dan Cullen during Australia’s tri-series in Malaysia 18 months ago. He was a young off-spinner with solid action, a great work ethic and, it seemed, a bright future. But players like Cullen Benjamin Bailey and Bryce McGain appear to have jumped ahead of him in the pecking order.

At the current ICC Under 19 World Cup in Malaysia, I interviewed an impressive young leggie by the name of Steven Smith who, at 17, is already playing first-class cricket for New South Wales. He may, indeed, be the one who’ll carry the highest hopes. But he’s a long way off.

Warne suggests the slow, low wickets of Pakistan would be a perfect testing ground for the new generation of spinners. He’s absolutely right.

“Maybe for Pakistan, they might have three or four in there and all just work together, a few younger guys around the Australian side, but they've got to warrant that as well," Warne said.

"Hopefully, we can have them perform consistently well in first-class cricket, talk to captains, get their fields right, understand how it works and hopefully over coming seasons see spinners performing well."

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