Happy birthday Glenn McGrath! A look at the Australia legend’s top Test spells
A look at the top three Test bowling spells of Glenn McGrath as the Australia pace legend celebrated his birthday on Friday.cricket Updated: Feb 09, 2018 16:40 IST
A metronome was born on this day 48 years ago. Glenn McGrath, the former Australian seam bowler, didn’t possess the vicious swing of a Wasim Akram or the searing pace of a Jeff Thomson, but what he had in abundance was a relentless ability to bowl with an impeccable line and length.
Put a coin in the area just around the off stump and he would hit it all day long without fail. During the course of his career, he went on to own that channel around the off stump also known as the ‘corridor of uncertainty’. With a tally of 563 scalps from 119 Tests, he holds the distinction of being the most successful speedster in the annals of Test cricket.
McGrath, fondly called Pigeon for his lanky figure, has an equally impressive record in the ODIs too. A three-time World Cup winner (1999, 2003, 2007), McGrath finished his career with the most number of wickets in ODI World Cups (71). He also owns the record of claiming most number of wickets in one World Cup (26 in 2007).
During his playing days, McGrath was also known for targeting the rival team’s best batsman and getting the better of him more often than not. Be it Sachin Tendulkar of India or West Indian Brian Lara or for that matter Michael Atherton of England (who he dismissed on 19 occasions which is a world record), McGrath had made it a habit of hunting big scalps.
Such was McGrath’s domination of the top batsmen that Lara once said of him, “If McGrath had six over to bowl, 36 balls, I’d be facing 10, Chanderpaul 36.”
On his 48th birthday, we recall three of his most memorable spells in Tests.
8-24 v Pakistan at Perth in 2004
McGrath’s best bowling figures of 8-24 conjured up in the first Test of a three-match series against Pakistan at Perth in December 2004. Chasing a mammoth target of 564 runs, Pakistan’s batting collapsed like a pack of cards in the face of some incisive bowling from the New South Wales pacer. McGrath had, in fact, taken the first seven wickets in the innings before Kasprowicz denied him the opportunity of going for a perfect 10 by castling Mohammad Sami.
8-38 v England at Lord’s in 1997
During his 13-year career, McGrath established himself as a tormentor of English batsmen in the Ashes battles. He took 157 wickets from 30 Ashes Tests at an average of 20.92. Only Shane Warne, with a tally of 195 wickets from 36 matches, has taken more wickets than him in the Ashes history.
One of his spells from early days that caught the attention of entire cricket fraternity came in an Ashes Test at the Lord’s in June 1997. Opening the bowling in the first innings, McGrath wreaked havoc claiming 8/38 from 20.3 overs as England were shot out for a paltry 77. Though the match ended in draw at the end, the spell marked the beginning of McGrath’s decade-long domination of English batsmen.
5-53 v England at Lord’s in 2005
Another memorable McGrath spell in another memorable Ashes clash! It was the first Test of the series and after Australia were bowled out for only 190 in the first innings; the hosts had their noses in front. But, McGrath, who came into the game needing only one wicket to reach the mark of 500, had other ideas.
He had made it clear in the run up to the game that he would like to claim English opener Marcus Trescothick’s wicket to reach the milestone of 500 wickets and he achieved it on the first ball he bowled to the English opener getting him caught in the slips. He broke the back of English batting by claiming the first five wickets in no time to reduce the hosts to 5-21. Australia went on to win the match by 239 runs.