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   Wednesday, 25 December, 2002, 10:13 GMT
Watch out for MacGill

Three weeks is a long time in the world of professional cricket.

Much has happened since we retained the Ashes at the WACA ground at the start of the month.

Who could have imagined that the incomparable Shane Warne would dive to field a ball and in the process dislocate his bowling shoulder?

In doing so, he has not only thrown Australia's World Cup plans into a sense of disarray, but he will also miss the remainder of this Ashes series.

Along with this he also forfeits the chance to pass the illustrious 500 Test wickets mark in front of his beloved supporters at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Professional sport is a very cut-throat business no matter how you look at it.

Injuries and loss of form means there is little security in this chosen career.

Aussie spinner Stuart MacGill
MacGill comes in for Shane Warne

One minute Warney has the next six months mapped out, the next he faces another rehabilitation period which will take a lot of courage and commitment to complete and overcome.

Fortunately, Warney still has many reasons to keep him hungry and motivated to get through this tough period in his career.

For one, there is the prospect of a consecutive World Cup title to aim for, and secondly there is the carrot of 500 Test wickets that will keep his spirit and determination alive.

While he will be sorely missed on Thursday, his misfortune gives Stuart MacGill another opportunity to shine in the Test arena.

There is no bowler in the world who has the ability to spin the ball as fiercely as Stuart.

And knowing England's difficulty in playing quality spin bowling I would expect him to make a big impression in the remaining two Tests.

Another man gaining from another's misfortune is Queenslander Martin Love who has been rushed into the team to replace run machine Darren Lehmann.

Martin Love
Love replaces the injured Lehmann

In a hectic turn of events Darren was rushed into hospital in the early hours of Tuesday morning with a severe bacterial infection in his right leg.

Although the left hander is making a slow recovery he looks likely to miss the final two Tests against England.

Thankfully there are a number of very good players on the fringe of this team and I would guess Martin Love could not have asked for a better time in his career to make his Test debut.

His form recently has been incredible having scored two double centuries against England in two outings against the old foe.

He is also coming off 190 last week in our domestic competition so he is ripe for the picking and could cause our opponent a few more nightmares over the course of the next five days.

There has been an incredible amount of speculation surrounding the future of our captain Steve Waugh.

Nothing to lose

Whatever our champion skipper decides to do I personally hope he enjoys the last two Tests, scores a lot of runs and makes a decision whether to retire or continue on his terms and for the right reasons.

Either way he is an icon to the game and should be treated with the respect he has rightfully earned over an enormously successful career.

As for England, they have played well against Sri Lanka in their last two one-day internationals and I am sure they will take some confidence from that success.

There is a school of thought that now that the Ashes is over they will relax and come out firing as they have nothing to lose in the next two weeks.

While this may be the case we still have a lot to prove to ourselves.

And we have no intention of losing any of the intensity that has helped us be so dominant in the first three Tests of this campaign.

All the reports from the Test match

Day five

Day four

Day three

Day two

Day one


See also:

25 Nov 02 | The Ashes
20 Nov 02 | The Ashes
12 Nov 02 | The Ashes
Links to more The Ashes stories are at the foot of the page.

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