Sydney, Nov.27 : Australian leg-spinner Stuart MacGILL may consider ruling himself out of Australia's Test series against India to undergo a knee operation.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, MacGill has consented to surgery in a bid to play unhindered for several more seasons.
But in doing so, he will surrender his position to left-arm Chinaman bowler Brad Hogg, allowing the West Australian to cement his place in the Test squad during the four-Test series against India.
Should all go to plan, MacGill would be available for the final rounds of the Pura Cup competition, and then present himself for Australian selection before the tour of Pakistan.
At 36, and having already undergone surgery on the knee this season, there is a very real possibility MacGill might not regain fitness in time for the tour of Pakistan. If Hogg were to perform strongly against India, MacGill's international career would be all but over.
MacGill would, however, be buoyed by the support of his team mates and Australian team officials, who have publicly expressed their desire to have him return to the Test line-up.
National selectors, too, would presumably be impressed by the leg-spinner's level of commitment and selflessness; essentially falling on his sword for the Indian series in a bid to present himself at full fitness for a gruelling year, which includes tours of Pakistan, India and the West Indies.
Hogg has been in strong form for Western Australia this season, claiming 13 wickets at 23.38 from three matches. The left-armer also completed a successful one-day tour of India last month, taking 11 wickets from seven matches against a batting line-up similar to that which will arrive in Australia next month.
MacGill is just 19 days older than Hogg, but in terms of physical condition, the spinners are years apart. Whereas MacGill has struggled with knee, elbow and weight problems in recent times, Hogg has retained the fitness and vitality of a man a decade his junior: quick between the wickets and a formidable fielding force in the Australian one-day line-up.
MacGill, however, possesses by far the more impressive Test record. In 42 Tests, the right-armer has claimed 203 wickets at a jaw-dropping strike-rate of 53.10 - statistics that compare favourably with the greatest spinners
Hogg, by contrast, has played just four Tests, and none since the forgettable encounter with Zimbabwe at the Sydney Cricket Ground in 2003. He claimed three wickets in Australia's eventual nine-wicket victory.
National selectors will anxiously await the outcome of MacGill's proposed knee operation, which will target troublesome ligaments.
Andrew Hilditch's panel remains hopeful that its first-choice spinner since Shane Warne's retirement will be the man to bridge the gap between the Warne era and the next generation of Australian spinners.
Those close to MacGill were reluctant to discuss the spinner's situation when contacted by the Herald yesterday. (ANI)
© 2007 ANI