This World Cup will be remembered apart from other things as a story of farewells, some shockingly unexpected and some not so. Some players who will figure prominently in any list of all time greats will not grace the stage anymore and not all of them will have fond memories of the ninth edition of the competition.
One of the few who would bid the game adieu with his head held high is Glenn McGrath. Not just because he has become the highest wicket-taker in the history of the game’s most valued event, but for the way he has fought age, injuries and illness in the family to spearhead his team’s attack when it needed him most.
Fifty-seven wickets in 33 matches to surpass Wasim Akram's record is just a number that does not show how the 37-year-old bowler has consistently made his mark in a form of the game designed to suit batsmen. Irrespective of conditions, pitches and opponents, the Pigeon has kept hitting the right areas and reaped the rewards.
There was a touch of modesty in how he reacted after the Bangladesh match. “When you are playing long enough, you are going to get a record here and there. But Wasim Akram to me is one the best bowlers of all time. To go past him is something pretty special,” said the man who had this responsibility of shouldering extra responsibility in the absence of Brett Lee.
It was after some time that the New South Wales warhorse opened the bowling and he was spot on from the first ball to break the back of a side that was not expected to put up much of a fight anyway. “The breeze and the moisture prompted me to give Glenn the new ball as we all know what he is capable of,” said captain Ricky Ponting.
McGrath, however, continued to sound modest at the postmatch interaction with the media. “I just tried to get the rhythm early on, then mixed the pace up, and luckily I got a few wickets. They were always going to come hard at us, but I hope I have got a bit of experience under my belt to handle that.”
It seemed easy for him in the end as the Bangladeshi batsmen made the mistake of giving him the charge instead of playing him out. Their coach Dav Whatmore was the first one to admit that was the biggest error. “This guy has got the best economy rate and the boys knew that, but still wanted to hit him. You don't usually get away with that.”
That was an inadequate summary of McGrath though. Hit him or block him, he has always devised his own way to break down the resistance of the best of batsmen. McGrath will remain one of a kind.