McGrath wants new-ball responsibility at World Cup

Published: Sunday, March 4, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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Sydney:Australian paceman Glenn McGrath has urged captain Ricky Ponting to hand him the new ball as the retiring bowling great strives to taste World Cup glory for the last time, reports said here Sunday.

The 37-year-old paceman was used as first change, behind Brett Lee and Nathan Bracken, through the January-February home tri-series against England and New Zealand.

He was reinstated as spearhead of the Australian attack in the losing Chappell-Hadlee series in New Zealand last month when Lee tore his ankle ligaments in a fielding mishap and was subsequently ruled out of the Caribbean tournament.

Some observers believe Shaun Tait's high-octane pace would be the ideal like-for-like replacement for Lee, but McGrath feels he would be best suited leading the attack.

"With Brett not being here, it will be interesting to see what we do with our bowling line-up and whether I take the new ball again, or whether we think about Mitch (Mitchell Johnson) or Taity taking the new ball," McGrath told Sydney's Sunday Telegraph.coach, buchanan, ricky ponting

"I love taking the new ball, obviously that's the way I would prefer to go, but I'll sit down and I'll have a think about the game and which is best suited to the team, as well as talk to Buck (coach John Buchanan) and Ricky and the other guys."

McGrath's metronomic line and length and clever variety has also made him an ideal first change, particularly as he can maintain pressure through the early part of an innings when the pair of five-over power plays (fielding restrictions) are usually employed.

But his aura and big-game reputation could be a key early weapon as he takes aim at continuing his reputation as a World Cup performer.

"At the end of the day, if it means me bowling first change is better for the team, then I'll do that," McGrath told the newspaper.

McGrath begins his fourth World Cup in second spot on the tournament's all-time list of wicket-takers with 45 and needs just 10 more to pass former Pakistani all-rounder Wasim Akram.

Australia's bowling vulnerability in the last 10 overs has become a major concern, with the team in the past year conceding 6.64 runs an over during this phase of the game -- the second worst of any nation.

McGrath has stressed to fellow quicks Stuart Clark, Bracken and young bucks Tait and Johnson the importance of dictating terms to the opposing batsmen and having variety in your bowling as they try to find a way to end this recent worrying trend.

"The advice I have been giving to the other guys is as long as you are bowling where you want to bowl the ball, at least you can change if the plans are wrong," he said.

"If the ball is not going where you want it, then you have got no hope. We will just focus on that, hopefully hit our yorkers a bit better than we have done and mix it up with a slower ball or a short ball.

"You don't want to get too predictable on these grounds."

McGrath admitted to mixed emotions when he packed his cricketing kit and left his family behind at home in Sydney.

"Part of me is happy, part of me is sad," he said.

"It's what I have done for the last 14 years. I love it. This is my last official first-class, international matches that I'll play. In that respect it's sad."


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