Benaud, Warne, MacGill – oh for a leggie now

David Lord Columnist

By David Lord, David Lord is a Roar Expert

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    Australian cricket commentator Richie Benaud talks to Stuart McGill AAP Image/Jenny Evans

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    Australia’s been blessed with three world class leg spinners since the end of World War II – Richie Benaud, Shane Warne, and Stuart MacGill.

    Benaud’s stellar career ended in 1964, well before both Warne and MacGill were born in 1969 and 1971 respectively. But their comparisons make interesting reading:

    Tests played – Warne 145, MacGill 94, Benaud 63.

    Wickets taken – Warne 708, Benaud 248, MacGill 208.

    Wickets per Test – Warne 4.89, Benaud 3.94, MacGill 2.21.

    Career average – Warne 25.41, Benaud 27.03, MacGill 29.02.

    Economy rate – Benaud 2.10, Warne 2.65, MacGill 3.22.

    Strike rate – MacGill 54, Warne 57.4, Benaud 77.

    Two facts surface from those stats – Tests were scarce in the Benaud era of the 50s and 60s, and MacGill was an under-rated leggie.

    MacGill and Warne’s Test careers were virtually in tandem, but they only played 16 together as the national selectors of the day didn’t usually see fit to have both in the side.

    In those 16 Tests together, MacGill was well ahead of his arch rival, capturing 82 wickets at 22 to Warne’s 71 at 31.

    The gap is even wider at the spin-friendly SCG where they played five Tests together. The Australians won all five in a canter against England, South Africa, Pakistan, the ICC World XI, and South Africa for a second time between 1999 and 2006, thanks to the two leggies.

    MacGill captured 40 wickets at 17, Warne 21 at 33 – daylight separating the two.

    There’s no argument Shane Warne is the greatest right-handed over-the-wrist spinner in the history of the game.

    But it’s fair to say Richie Benaud and Stuart MacGill have earned their seat at the top table.

    David Lord
    David Lord

    David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn?t get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world?s great sporting spectacles

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    The Crowd Says (18)

    • December 20th 2012 @ 7:09am
      Boomer said | December 20th 2012 @ 7:09am | ! Report

      Macgill played 44 tests not 94.

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      • December 20th 2012 @ 7:20am
        Jake said | December 20th 2012 @ 7:20am | ! Report

        David would you like us to double check any other stats for you?

      • Roar Guru

        December 20th 2012 @ 1:53pm
        Andy_Roo said | December 20th 2012 @ 1:53pm | ! Report

        David 44 tests for MacGill equates to 4.72 wickets per test, not 2.21.

    • December 20th 2012 @ 7:56am
      Johnno said | December 20th 2012 @ 7:56am | ! Report

      Dave Warner , Steve Smith, Cameron White , all have some potential.

      • December 20th 2012 @ 8:08am
        Red Kev said | December 20th 2012 @ 8:08am | ! Report

        I would say Zampa and Boyce have far more chance of becoming quality legspinners.

        • December 20th 2012 @ 8:38am
          formeropenside said | December 20th 2012 @ 8:38am | ! Report

          and Cameron White is a bit old for “potential” these days

          • December 20th 2012 @ 9:45am
            Rhys said | December 20th 2012 @ 9:45am | ! Report

            White has passed the ‘what could be’ point in his cricketing journey, and is now fast approaching the ‘what might have been’ marker.

    • December 20th 2012 @ 9:34am
      Dan said | December 20th 2012 @ 9:34am | ! Report

      Steve smith looked good until he thought he had to bowl fast and flat in limited overs cricket. Not sure who told him to do that but they basically destroyed his bowling. Boyce is very expensive at present, haven’t seen any of Zampa. Dave Warner bowled four very very impressive overs this match, he does lack some energy through the crease which costs him some turn but Warner looks a very good prospect.

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    • December 20th 2012 @ 9:53am
      Jamie said | December 20th 2012 @ 9:53am | ! Report

      The SCG MacGill (best cricket name ever) stats are just plain wrong.

      With Warne and MacGill playing together, I think MacGill benefited enormously from having Warne at the other end. Warne’s amazing control meant that MacGill was often targeted for runs a little more and could attack a bit more.

      Whether Aus cricket needs a leggie? Just remember, the invincibles of 1948 didn’t have one and were acknowledged as one of the finest teams ever. The great Windies teams of the 80’s also were rather spin-free. What both those teams (and the Oz team of the mid 90’s-00’s) had were great bowlers who could find wickets, whatever the situation. Think Lindwall, Miller, Johnson; Holding, Garner etc & Warne & McGrath.

      This is what the test team needs (assuming we can keep Clarke scoring 200’s for fun). Whether quick, slow or in the middle, doesn’t really matter.

      Remember. Bowlers win matches, batsmen only save them.

      • December 20th 2012 @ 2:57pm
        JohnB said | December 20th 2012 @ 2:57pm | ! Report

        Colin McCool went on that 1948 tour. More than handy leggie. Doug Ring (also a leggie) played one of the tests, and Ian Johnson (offie) played the other 4 There were other decent wrist spin bowlers around that era (Bruce Dooland, George Tribe) who didn’t seem to get much of a go. One thing to note on the 1948 tour was that the rule on getting a new ball was different from what it is now, and a new ball was available much more quickly than it is now (55 overs), contributing to the preference for pace bowlers (and with the lineup then available, why wouldn’t you use them). But they still had a spinner there each game.

    • December 20th 2012 @ 10:11am
      Dan said | December 20th 2012 @ 10:11am | ! Report

      I pretty much agree with everything you said there Jamie but did you just put Mitchell Johnson in the same category as lindwall miller holding garner warne and McGrath?? Ummm huh??

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      • December 20th 2012 @ 11:34am
        Jason said | December 20th 2012 @ 11:34am | ! Report

        At the risk of not getting your sarcasm, I think he might have meant Ian Johnson.

        • Roar Guru

          December 20th 2012 @ 1:56pm
          Andy_Roo said | December 20th 2012 @ 1:56pm | ! Report

          one would hope so

    • December 20th 2012 @ 10:32am
      jameswm said | December 20th 2012 @ 10:32am | ! Report

      Anyone seen Zampa bowl?

      I think Smith’s got it wrong. He should focus on being a bowling all rounder and batting at 7/8. I think he has the ability to be a very good leggie. He has good loop, a good wrong un, and a good flipper. He needs to focus more on his bowking than his batting. I don’t ever see him as a test top 6.

      He couldn’t get overs last season having SOK and Hauritz in the same team, but now at Shield level he should bat at 6/7 (Nevill 7/6, SOK 8, quicks 9-11), Henriques 5. NSW have got it wrong with Henriques at about 7 and Smith at 4.

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