Revitalised McGrath wants Indian appetiser

Published: Wednesday, July 26, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Sydney:Australian paceman Glenn McGrath has scoffed at suggestions he should adopt a light workload on his return to international cricket and skip a One-day tournament in India to save himself for the Ashes.

McGrath, who has not played international cricket since January, said he wanted to play in both October's ICC Champions Trophy in India and the blockbuster Ashes series against England starting a month later.

The most successful fast bowler in Test history has also set himself the goal of taking his tally of 542 Test wickets to at least 600, a feat so far achieved only by teammate Shane Warne and Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan.

McGrath took leave of absence this year to help his wife Jane fight breast cancer and some experts, including national selector Allan Border, have recommended a gradual return after the long layoff.

But with his wife now in good health and saying she "wanted me out of the house," McGrath declared himself fit and raring to get stuck into the opposition on India's flat, dusty tracks.

"If I go on past experience whenever we've played there (India) leading into a season I have always come back to Australia and bowled really well straight away," he said.

"For fast bowlers India is the ultimate still. It's a great place to prepare -- that would be my first choice."

Border has suggested McGrath prepare for the Ashes by playing domestic cricket in Australia, saying his "gut feeling" was that playing four-day domestic games would be better preparation for the Tests against England than participating in a One-day tournament.

McGrath began a three-day training session with Australian coach John Buchanan and bowling coach Troy Cooley Wednesday, which will be used to assess the 36-year-old's fitness and to plan his comeback.

The Australian attack's ageing spearhead said he would accept whatever decision they came to but made it clear his preference was to travel to India.

McGrath was injured for much of the Ashes series last year and was sorely missed by a team that lost the trophy to England for the first time in 18 years.

He was unfazed by the possibility of England's star all-rounder Andrew Flintoff returning from injury and preparing for the Ashes by playing domestic cricket in Australia, perhaps with McGrath's New South Wales state side.

"That's fine, I have no problem with that. I went over to England (in 2003) and played some county cricket for Middlesex when I was coming back from the ankle injury -- it works both ways," he said.

McGrath believed an England side bedevilled by poor form and injuries would improve for the Ashes, even though the tourist's sick list could include Flintoff (ankle), captain Michael Vaughan (knee), fast bowlers Simon Jones (knee) and Liam Plunkett (side strain) and spinner Ashley Giles (hip).

"Since the Ashes I have been disappointed with them," he said. "I thought they would have come out and beaten everyone into the series but I am sure they will step up."

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