SYDNEY, Dec 23 (Reuters) Australia cricket boss James Sutherland led the tributes to fast bowler Glenn McGrath, who announced today he would retire after next year's World Cup.
Sutherland said McGrath, whose last test will be next month's final Ashes match with England, was a true professional who had performed with distinction in both tests and one-day internationals for 13 years.
''They say bowlers win matches - they must have been thinking of players like Glenn McGrath when they said that,'' Sutherland said in a statement.
''His remorseless accuracy and forensic probing of the slightest weakness in a batsman's technique is legendary.'' Australian captain Ricky Ponting said McGrath's retirement marked the end of an era in Australian cricket following Shane Warne's announcement he was quitting as well.
''We're going to be losing two of the all-time greats in a pretty short period of time,'' Ponting told reporters in Mebourne.
''It's sad, but we've now got to push on in the next few weeks.
''We've known for a long time that these two weren't going to go on forever ... so as much as it's a sad time, it's an exciting time too because a lot of younger players will get their opportunities.'' Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds said he was devastated by the news McGrath and Warne were quitting. The pair will play their last match together in the last Ashes test in Sydney starting on Jan. 2.
''I'm heartbroken, to be perfectly honest, I don't want either of them to retire,'' Symonds said.
''But it's going to be a spectacle seeing how people respond to two of our best-ever players leave the game.'' With the Ashes already back in Australian hands, the hype surrounding the final two tests is all about the farwell of Australia's two most successful bowlers.
Opening batsmen Matthew Hayden said they deserved every accolade that came their way.
''It's a celebration of two wonderful careers,'' Hayden said.
''Each has displayed exactly what Australian cricket expects of its athletes. Both have had an amazing tenacity and longevity in the game.'' REUTERS PM KN1439