MacGill to help old enemy
BEN Stokes is gone, but Stuart MacGill says there’s another wildcard in the England pack and he has revealed he will cross the Ashes trench to mentor him.
The Australian Test great has no qualms about working with the enemy this summer, declaring 20-year-old leg-spinner Mason Crane is the attacking weapon England should be backing in to turn the Ashes on its head.
Bearing a striking resemblance to the action that claimed MacGill 208 dazzling Test wickets, Crane made extraordinary history earlier this year when under the Australian spin master’s tuition he became the first Englishman to play Sheffield Shield cricket for NSW since the 1880s.
MacGill has a close relationship with the ECB through former Test spinner Peter Such and has relished the opportunity to work with a range of up-and-coming spinners England has sent out to him in Sydney – with Crane’s rise last season from grade cricket at Gordon to a Blues debut and now the Ashes squad the greatest success to date.
Plans are in place for MacGill to again link with Crane, potentially ahead of the series opener in Brisbane next month and then when the exciting leggie arrives in Sydney for the New Year’s finale.
MacGill has no mixed feelings about helping Crane as he fights to put back into the craft he believes can reignite England’s Ashes hopes and Test cricket at large.
“It’s really funny, you would think so. Obviously I’d really like to see Australia winning as often as they possibly can, but when you bring it back down to a personal level, I’m not playing. It’s not really my team. So if one of my mates does well for another country (I want to enjoy in that and help),” MacGill said.
“Steve Smith captains his T20 team in the IPL, he’s helping cricketers from other nations in much the same way as I am and he’s captaining Australia. I don’t see a great issue for me.
“Picking an attacking spinner like Mason is the kind of approach teams playing Test cricket need to adopt. In Australia, we’ve got good wickets and you can’t wait as long for the other team to make mistakes. You’ve got to tactically and skilfully make inroads yourself.”
Many England spinners have made the long trip to Australia and perished, but MacGill believes there are some key qualities that set the unassuming kid from Sussex apart.
MacGill has no hesitation in declaring Crane is armed with a better wrong-un than the one he famously called on during an excellent career forged in the same era as Shane Warne.
There is also something tough about Crane, according to MacGill. “There’s a lot to like about Mason. It’s not just his bowling. He’s modest and enthusiastically confident, and he loves bowling well,” said MacGill.
WEAPON: Mason Crane.