McGrath all set for memorable swansong

Published: Friday, April 27, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
Share this on your social network:
   Facebook Twitter Google+    Comments Mail

Bridgetown (Barbados):Technical simplicity and an uncomplicated approach combine to make Glenn McGrath a pace bowler whose name will resonate down the ages after he bows out of international cricket this Saturday.

Fittingly Kensington Oval, the most evocative of Caribbean cricket grounds, will be the venue for McGrath's final appearance for Australia in the World Cup final against Sri Lanka.

Twelve years ago McGrath captured eight for 114 in Bridgetown as Australia defeated West Indies in the first Test within three days.

With characteristically unpretentious toughness McGrath bounced the West Indies' fast bowlers knowing that despite his limited batting technique he could expect them to return the treatment with interest.

They did but McGrath and Australia absorbed the pressure and counter-punched brilliantly to win a gripping four-Test series 2-1.

It was the home side's first Test series defeat for 15 years and Australia have been the dominant side in world cricket since.

McGrath, now 37, was distinctly sharp in his youth but never possessed express pace. He can move the ball in the air but not in the fashion of a Ray Lindwall or Dennis Lillee.

Yet he deserves his ranking alongside his great Australian predecessors because of his unvarying consistency and the rugged durability of the boy from the outback who lived in a caravan on a Sydney beach while he strove to break into the big time.

McGrath's runup takes just as long as his lanky frame needs to achieve maximum momentum. A side-shuffle as he approaches the stumps ensures his high arm propels the ball wicket to wicket. His action is biomechanically perfect. The outcome is a stock ball pitching on a perfect length designed to hit the top of off-stump

The end result has been the most successful fast bowler in history with 563 Test victims, signed off with a wicket from his final delivery as Australia completed a 5-0 Ashes whitewash at the Sydney Cricket Ground. He also has the most wickets in World Cups and almost inevitably heads the list of wicket-takers - with 25 - in the 2007 tournament going into Saturday's final.

"You can come up with 20 different qualities that make him the person he is and the player that he is," Australia coach John Buchanan told reporters this week.

"Certainly, durability. He's been around the game for so long. But I think from his point of view it's just keeping it pretty simple. Whether it be his action or whether it be the way he actually approaches each game, he keeps it all pretty simple and just delivers that time and time again.

"An unbelievable amount of qualities make him the person that he is and give him the record that he justly and deservedly has."

Wednesday's demolition of South Africa showed again just what a great bowler McGrath remains, confounding the critics who thought he might prove easy pickings on slow Caribbean pitches.

After McGrath's opening spell South Africa was a hopeless 27 for five and McGrath had captured three for 14.

"I've probably bowled a little differently this tournament," he said afterwards. "Probably bowled a little more aggressively than I have done in the past. That's the reason I've got a few more wickets, I've probably gone for a few more runs than I normally do."

McGrath leaves the game on his own terms, not something automatically accorded a sportsman however distinguished.

"The fact that I'm going to retire is probably one of the reasons I'm bowling so well," he said. "Because I'm just going out there, trying to enjoy it, make the most of every game I play. There's no pressure, no fear, no anything.

"The body is feeling great, I'm feeling fresh while I'm out in the middle. I've still got that competitive edge when I'm out there but it is everything else that goes with it. That's the reason I'm retiring."


Write Comments