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McGrath keen to play against SA

The veteran paceman may return to the Australian team for Sunday's tri-series match.

india Updated: Feb 04, 2006 18:22 IST

Veteran paceman Glenn McGrath may return to the Australian team for Sunday's triangular series clash with South Africa, despite his wife suffering a recurrence of cancer.

Australia's vice-captain Adam Gilchrist said here on Saturday that he had spoken to McGrath who told him he was keen to play in the match at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

But Gilchrist said he did not know what McGrath's longer-term plans were. The Australians begin a tour of South Africa in just over two weeks.

"I know he is quite keen to play, so that's what they (the family) will have to work out," Gilchrist said.

"Longer term, I don't know. We just have to let the dust settle a little bit and really give them a chance to work out what's best for them and then secondary to that is what's best for the team."

McGrath raced home to Sydney from Melbourne on Friday, missing Australia's 80-run win over the Proteas at the Telstra Dome after learning his wife Jane had new health problems.

Jane McGrath has previously been treated successfully for breast and bone cancer.

"I have just spoken with Pigeon (McGrath) this morning (and he is) very optimistic and very positive," Gilchrist said.

"If anyone knows how to deal with it, those guys do."

South Africa need to beat Australia in the match or face a "live" final qualifying match against Sri Lanka in Hobart on Tuesday.

The Australians, on 22 points, 10 ahead of South Africa, are already placed in the best-of-three finals which start next Friday.

The South Africans meanwhile will be relying on out-of-form skipper Graeme Smith to give the team a strong start alongside fellow opener Boeta Dippenaar.

Smith was dismissed by Brett Lee for a duck on Friday and has not made a half century during the series.

South African coach Mickey Arthur said Johan Botha had been brought in at number five on Friday to try and move the run rate along.

But his partner, Herschelle Gibbs, had played a rash shot on 33 and his dismissal left the South Africans struggling at 69-4.

Botha went on to make 46 from 61 balls but his effectiveness had been lost, Arthur said.

"He (Gibbs) misread the situation and we've had a chat about it," Arthur said.

"It was an irresponsible shot, bearing in mind that we had got Botha in to take the pressure off him."

Arthur said he hoped Botha could play a more free-flowing innings at the SCG to lay the platform for lower-order hitters Shaun Pollock, Justin Kemp and Mark Boucher.

Gibbs has also been promoted from number three to number four, Arthur said.

"We don't want Herschelle getting frustrated and having to come in (in the middle-order) when the asking rate is high," Arthur said.

"Dippenaar, Gibbs and Smith, they've got to lead us and set up the innings."

Teams: Australia (from): Ricky Ponting (c), Adam Gilchrist, Simon Katich, Damien Martyn, Andrew Symonds, Michael Clarke, Mike Hussey, Brad Hogg, Brett Lee, Brett Dorey, Stuart Clark, James Hopes, Glenn McGrath, Brett Dorey. South Africa (from) Graeme Smith (c), Boeta Dippenaar, Jacques Rudolph, Herschelle Gibbs, Ashwell Prince, Justin Kemp, Mark Boucher, Shaun Pollock, Andrew Hall, Johan van der Wath, Charl Langeveldt, Johan Botha, Monde Zondeki, Dale Steyn.

First Published: Feb 04, 2006 18:22 IST