India's old foe, former Australian fast bowler Glenn McGrath has a new year wish. A wish that is against the hopes of millions of Indian fans around the world.
"I’d love to see Sachin Tendulkar score his 100th international hundred but only in the first Test match of the next series that India plays," says McGrath with a grin and his face gleaming in the pink -- almost as pink as the baggy pink cap that Tendulkar and other Indian cricketers wore on Sunday in support of McGrath foundation for cancer patients.
Except for the reading on the weighing machine, nothing much has changed in McGrath. His dry humour and the say-it-as-I-see-it are very much in place. When told that Australian coach Micky Arthur believes there are chinks in the armour of Indian batsmen, McGrath smiled and said: "All these guys Sachin, Dravid and Laxman are class players, you can't brush them aside after one game. They have proven over a period of time. It is just that they take time to adjust to conditions here in Australia as they are very different here. I think Sachin is an all-time great and is at his best at the moment."
He also talked up the Indian fast bowlers. One of them Umesh Yadav idolises his bowling. “That is quite nice to know that a young quick looks up to me for inspiration. I'd be content if any of my actions can make a difference in the game of a youngster. Umesh is working up good pace and is bowling in good areas. He has a good wrist action and his bouncer surprises batsmen (One Yadav bouncer in Melbourne Test hit Ponting on his helmet). I think Ishant Sharma is a quality bowler and with his height is a big asset, I have a lot of time for him.”
McGrath's hunch is that the wicket in Sydney would be a bit like the one in Melbourne where Australian quicks could trouble Indian batsmen.
“I am very happy to see the fast bowling talent in Australia. The best thing is that wickets are being shared -- in the first innings it was Ben Hilfenhaus, second it was James Pattinson while Peter Siddle snared Sachin in both innings. It was much like in my playing days when wickets were shared between myself, Warne and Gillespie. I have to thank Warnie for a lot of my wickets.”
(The writer works for ESPN's Sportscenter)