McGrath poised to eclipse Akram~~s Cup feat

Published: Wednesday, March 14, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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Basseterre (St Kitts&Nevis):Australian paceman Glenn McGrath wants to finish his career in record-breaking fashion by overtaking Pakistan's Wasim Akram as the World Cup's most successful bowler.

The 37-year-old retired from Test cricket with 563 wickets to his name after helping Australia to a 5-0 Ashes whitewash of England earlier this year.

Now he needs another ten victims to equal Wasim's all-time World Cup tally of 55 wickets.

"I noticed I'm number two in World Cup wickets. Wasim, who I think was one of the best bowlers of all time, is on top with 55 so it would be nice to get a couple in front by the end of the tournament," McGrath told reporters here on Tuesday.

Wasim, arguably the best left-arm seamer the world has seen, played five World Cups between 1987 to 2003 and helped Pakistan to the title in 1992.

McGrath said he is looking forward to the start of the World Cup.

"It is seven weeks of good cricket between now and then, so I want to play some good cricket and comfortably hang up my boots."

Two-time champions Australia open their title defence with a Group A match against Scotland at Warner Park here on Wednesday.

South Africa, who have deposed Australia as the world number one ranked team, and the Netherlands are the two other teams in the group.

The top two teams qualify for the next round Super Eights.

McGrath said he was feeling fine ahead of the opening match.

"My body is feeling really good, the mind's hanging in there and will hopefully follow suit. I want to get through this tournament. Then, come May 1, I will think about retirement.

"This is a major tournament and every team is looking to start well. We're ranked number two in the world and that's not a position we find ourselves in too often. We'd rather be back at number one, that's what we're aiming for."

Australia had a miserable last few weeks before coming to the Caribbean when they lost five matches in a row and were also plagued by injuries to key players.

They lost their spearhead Brett Lee who was ruled out with an ankle injury and Matthew Hayden and Andrew Symonds are both fighting for full fitness.

But the Australians bounced back impressively last week by winning both of their warm-up matches, including a clinical five-wicket win over arch-foes England.

"The way we played against England in St Vincent was back to business as usual and hopefully we continue from there," said McGrath.

"The two warm-up games show the preparation has been perfect and we have adjusted to the wickets.

"We hope to keep improving, we've got Scotland first and then Holland. The aim of this tournament is to peak for the final. We lost five in a row, so we start at the bottom and hope to finish at the top in the end."

McGrath meanwhile fired the first salvo at rivals South Africa, whom they meet on March 24, saying the Proteas do not handle pressure well.

"I have always felt they're a team that don't handle pressure as well as the Australian team. The fact that they are ranked no.1 now means a lot more pressure to hold that position and we'll see what happens.

"I wouldn't say they are chokers but the World Cup is the big scene and we are ready for them."

McGrath, who urged his captain to use him as new-ball bowler in Lee's absence, said he would be happy in any role.

"I think to me it's what's best for the team. Twenty overs of powerplay does change the game, and with (Shaun) Tait coming into the team, he'd probably hope to bowl two or three first up and it would be nice to pick up a wicket with his express pace.

"I think it'll work really well for us."


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