MacGill happy to cross Ashes divide

Australian leg-spinning great to continue mentoring young Englishman when rivalries are renewed this summer

Former Test bowler Stuart MacGill says he is comfortable continuing to mentor Mason Crane this summer despite the young leg-spinner earning a shock call-up to England's Magellan Ashes squad.

Crane last summer made his Sheffield Shield debut for NSW after starring in a Premier Cricket stint with club side Gordon, becoming the Blues' first overseas player since Pakistan great Imran Khan in the 1980s. 

The Hampshire wrist-spinner took five wickets in his only appearance for NSW after having his cap presented to him by MacGill and claimed a competition-leading 45 scalps to take out the Bill O'Reilly Medal as NSW Premier Cricket's best player.

And MacGill, whose tally of 208 Test wickets would almost certainly have been greater had he not been born in the Shane Warne era, insists his close bond and working relationship with Crane won't change now the 20-year-old has been picked in England's squad for the five-Test Ashes series.

"Obviously I'd really like to see Australia winning as often as they possibly can, but when you bring it back down to a personal level, I'm not playing," MacGill told News Ltd.

"It's not really my team. So if one of my mates does well for another country (I want to enjoy in that and help).

"Steve Smith captains his T20 team in the IPL, he's helping cricketers from other nations in much the same way as I am and he's captaining Australia. I don't see a great issue for me."

Australia captain Smith did in fact provide star England allrounder Ben Stokes with technical advice on his power-hitting during the Indian Premier League earlier this year, where the pair were playing for Rising Pune Supergiant.

"From playing with a guy you play against – England v Australia and the hype around England v Australia – then playing with him, it was really good actually," said Stokes, who England have confirmed won't initially travel to Australia with the rest of the Test squad due to an ongoing police investigation, during the Champions Trophy.

"I remember doing a batting session with some power hitting where the guy who I will actually be playing against in the Ashes in our winter was helping me, which is something that you would never be able to fathom when you are playing against each other.

"The IPL is probably the only place where you get that."

When asked if he was sure Smith was trying to help and not engaging in some under-handed subterfuge, Stokes replied with a smile: "It would be a good tactic if he wasn't."

Australia batsman Peter Handscomb had the chance to pick the brains and examine the techniques of England Test captain Joe Root, batsman Gary Ballance and 'keeper Jonny Bairstow during a stint with Yorkshire this year.

"I was lucky to be there with a few of the boys that are probably going to be in the England Test squad for the Ashes," Handscomb told last month.

"It was great to get around them and just talk cricket. They spoke about playing in Australia and I was asking questions about playing in England.

"They were quite open conversations. It was a massive learning curve."

Playing in the Ashes would be a dream: Maxwell

Asked if he stopped short of disclosing too many secrets, a grinning Handscomb said he revealed "just enough to keep them interested that they think they got something".

MacGill meanwhile believes Crane, who took 16 wickets at 44.68 in England's four-day domestic competition this season and made his T20 International debut against South Africa in June, can thrive in Australia.

"When he has got his opportunities, he's grabbed them," MacGill said.

"To get into the England Test squad through T20 cricket is fantastic and his T20 and 50 over results for a 20-year-old are quite spectacular, I think.

"Despite his age, he's not been given everything to him on a plate. He's had to work for it and he's had to be patient. He deserves an opportunity to be in this squad."

2017-18 International Fixtures:

Magellan Ashes Series

First Test Gabba, November 23-27. Buy tickets

Second Test Adelaide Oval, December 2-6 (Day-Night). Buy tickets

Third Test WACA Ground, December 14-18. Buy tickets

Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30. Buy tickets

Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test). Buy tickets

ODI Series v England

First ODI MCG, January 14. Buy tickets

Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Buy tickets

Third ODI SCG, January 21. Buy tickets

Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Buy tickets

Fifth ODI Perth TBC, January 28. Join the ACF

Prime Minister's XI

PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Buy tickets

T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series

First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Buy tickets

Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Buy tickets

Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Buy tickets

Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 13

Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16

Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18

Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21