Spinner McGain could make the difference, says Ponting on arrival in S. Africa

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Johannesburg (South Africa), Feb. 17 (ANI): Australian cricket skipper Ricky Ponting believes that leg-spinner Bryce McGain could make the difference between Australia winning or losing the forthcoming series to South Africa.

"He's obviously come back from his injury very well and he's bowled well for Victoria in the last few games. It's always nice to have a very good and highly skilled leg-spinner in your side, which is what Bryce is. There's every chance that he could just be that X-factor that we need," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Ponting, as saying.

"We know that over the years Warnie had a great record against South Africa, and at different times had them under a spell," he added.

Ponting said that he was delighted with McGain's selection in the 14-man squad because, amongst other things, it means that he is no longer the oldest player on tour, something he volunteers with a smile.

He compared the daunting task of his inexperienced South Africa touring squad to Australia's history-changing tour of the West Indies in 1995.

Australia beat the West Indies despite a decimated attack to claim the unofficial title of world champion and has held that title virtually ever since, until challenged by South Africa this summer.

Now rankings are official Australia, having lost 2-1 to South Africa this summer, will be battling to retain its No.1 Test status during the next month or so in the return series.

Ponting will be mounting his defence without new ball bowlers Brett Lee and Stuart Clark, amongst others, in the same way Mark Taylor lost his opening pair of Craig McDermott and Damien Fleming through injury 13 years ago.

"If you look back to a tour like the West Indies in 1995, that's where Glenn McGrath really stood up and made a name for himself when Craig McDermott and a few of the guys went down injured. We've got a great opportunity for a Siddle, or a Ben Hilfenhaus or a Bollinger to really make a name for themselves and forge their own identity at international level," Ponting said.

A tireless Johnson, who has all of 18 Tests behind him and has played half of that quota over the past four months in India and at home to be Australia's standout bowler of the summer, will lead the attack. Siddle has played just four Tests, Bollinger one and Hilfenhaus is yet to make his debut.

Also yet to play his first Test is leg-spinner Bryce McGain, who turns 37 next month but is likely to be Australia's main spinner after making a strong recovery from shoulder surgery. (ANI)

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