While Shane Warne added a gold lining to his script with his 700th wicket, on his home ground, and another five-wicket haul against England, Glenn McGrath was chugging along at the other end. He might have easily ended with more than a solitary scalp but, on a day of records, one of them nearly passed by unnoticed.
In dismissing Sajid Mahmood, McGrath claimed his 150th Test wicket against England. He has taken them at under 21 runs each and, it occured to me yesterday, I’ve seen nearly every, painful one of them.
The metronome started ticking in 1994 at the Gabba but it wasn’t memorable, and few who witnessed this spindly twig could’ve forseen a future champion. 0 for 40 from 10 in the first innings; 0 for 47 off 14 in the second. His enforced half-step into the stumps on delivery seemed a clever move but awkwardly executed. He didn’t look a natural.
A few months later, picked for Australia’s epic tour of the Caribbean, McGrath showed the qualities which would become a blueprint for fast bowlers. He took 5 for 68 in the West Indies’ second innings at Bridgetown - dismissing Brian Lara for the first time – as Australia took a series lead. After a draw in the 2nd Test at Antigua, McGrath took 6 for 47 to rout West Indies for 136. West Indies won – it remains one of my favourite Tests – but McGrath showed his class. Here’s the Daily Telegraph’s report:
McGrath, 25, a two-metre tall bush bloke from Narromine, held his
press conference barefoot and in shirt and shorts yesterday,
hardly the vision splendid of Australia`s knight in shining ar-
But with the Ashes new-ball pair of Craig McDermott and Damien
Fleming injured and back in Australia, that is how “Pigeon“
McGrath has emerged in the Caribbean, having won the man-of-the-
match award in Australia`s first Test win in Barbados with 8-114
and now a candidate for the same honour in Trinidad.
McGrath sat in the players` box and scrutinised the West Indies`
attack on Friday, observing how Curtly Ambrose (5-45), Courtney
Walsh (3-50) and Winston Benjamin (1-13) bowled a fuller length
to avoid being cut or pulled with the ball digging into the pitch
and standing up.
With several hundred Australian spectators following the team`s
progress, McGrath is still coming to grips with the personal war
chant – “Ooh, aah, Glenn McGrath!“ – reverberating around the
“It`s something I`ve never experienced before,“ he said. “It
started in Barbados. Hopefully, we`ll bring the cup home for
them. We`re real confident. We are here to win, and that`s ex-
actly what we`re going to do. The guys are pretty keyed up. If we
nail this Test, it will be great. It`s a pretty tense dressing
room. The main thing is that everyone wants everyone else to do
well. The attitude could not be better.“
Even the champions have to work hard. They always seem effortless, filled with luck and fortune but there’s blood and tears behind the smooth veneer. Anyway, he’s finished…and thank God for that!