Right from the moment he ran in to bowl his first ball of the Indian Premier League, Glenn McGrath looked like he belonged here. At 38 years and 70 days and much retired, few would have thought the metronome, known the world over as the Pigeon, would play again.
For long now T20 has been touted as a game for the young, the strong and able-bodied. Taruwar Kohli, half McGrath’s age and fresh from the Under-19 World Cup victory, was taught a swift lesson by an ageing but potent master.
McGrath, pitching the ball in a perfect line and length just outside the off stump, preyed enough on Kohli’s mind to have him come down the track and attempt a wild smear that did not get past midwicket. McGrath then wrapped up the first maiden of the competition, the exact value of which is impossible to quantify in this version of the game. The games played in the IPL so far have shown that this format is suited for young men.
But, quite ironically, the second day belonged to those well on the wrong side of 30. First there was Michael Hussey — who was only revealed to international cricket at an age when most people are contemplating giving the game away — creaming a century to take the Chennai team to a comfortable win. Then McGrath showed that IPL might just be a fantastic retirement option for him, and his opposition captain, Shane Warne.
The format of this game lends itself ideally to tired limbs and injured bodies. Someone like McGrath, who quit the game because he could not take non-stop cricket, the recurring injuries and the recovery and rehabilitation between matches, can bowl the four overs asked of him from memory. McGrath’s first spell was a remarkable 3-1-13-1 and set the stage for the strongest bowling performance of the tournament. The cheapest four-over spell before this game came from another 30-something, Sourav Ganguly, who took 2 for 21 from his four overs.
Ganguly, who only recently said that he was keen to play one-day cricket once more, was in his element leading the team. And the determination with which he took the ball and sent down his cutters, sweat pouring down his face, you certainly couldn’t rule anything out. They say life begins at 30.