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MacGill in equation for Ashes decider

Stuart MacGill is "very much in the equation" to play alongside fellow leg spinner Shane Warne in the final Test against England.

india Updated: Sep 02, 2005 22:08 IST

Stuart MacGill is "very much in the equation" to play alongside fellow leg spinner Shane Warne in the fifth and final Test against England, according to Australia coach John Buchanan.

Buchanan said he expected MacGill, who has spent much of his career in Warne's shadow and who did not feature in the first four Tests, to be given a long bowl in the two-day tour match against Essex starting on Saturday at Chelmsford.

"This game will be important for him. He hasn't bowled a lot although I guess we'll be monitoring his fitness and what he has been doing. Hopefully he'll get plenty of overs at Essex."

The Oval, the venue of the final test starting next Thursday, traditionally provides wickets offering bounce.

"That aids both pace bowlers who hit the deck and spin bowlers because they get bounce with turn," Buchanan added.

"Therefore, I am sure (chairman of selectors) Trevor Hohns would say Stuart MacGill is very much in the equation."

England lead the series 2-1 and have dominated the last three tests. Australia have won the last eight series and need to win at The Oval to retain the Ashes.

MacGill, 34, has an excellent record against England, having taken 39 wickets at 24.71 runs apiece against them. He has played 33 tests in all.

Buchanan conceded that England had set the agenda during the series since the world champions won the first test.

"They have set plans and they have stuck to those. Therefore we have come to their plans. That's why you will find most of our players are generally getting a start but then ultimately they are netted by an England plan," he said.

"Our job is to actually force England to come to us. And we haven't done that."

Buchanan said he believed his side were losing key mental battles rather than making technical errors.

"If we were losing every mental battle, then in terms of our batting we wouldn't see players getting starts, we wouldn't see players batting for long periods."

"In a sense they (Australia's batsmen) are winning mental battles, they're just not winning enough of them."

Buchanan's role as coach has come under scrutiny during the tour and he said negotiations over a new contract -- his current deal runs out shortly after the Ashes -- would have to wait.

Control emotions

He also defended his captain Ricky Ponting following suggestions he has been out-thought by England skipper Michael Vaughan.

Ponting was fined 75 percent of his match fee after reacting angrily to his second-innings dismissal during the fourth test at Trent Bridge but Buchanan added: "We are playing elite sport and there is a lot of emotion out there."

"Obviously you would love to be able to control your emotions 100 percent of the time but unfortunately in this case he didn't and suffered the justifiable penalty."

"I didn't see pressure getting to him. His responses are outstanding, which is why we have hung in as well as we have done. I don't see those circumstances undermining his authority at all. It shows his passion and determination."

Buchanan said he believed a lot of the criticism had been "totally unwarranted", adding Ponting's captaincy style had always been "consultative".

"The difficulty for people outside is to appreciate what is happening inside and while experts provide an opinion it is not necessarily based on any facts or evidence."

"I think he is doing an outstanding job and Australia is lucky to have him," said Buchanan.

First Published: Sep 02, 2005 22:08 IST