December 1, 2000

McGrath reaches milestone in style

Glenn McGrath today became only the third Australian bowler to reach the 300 wicket mark in Test cricket, joining Shane Warne and Dennis Lillee in the exclusive club.

What made it all the more special is the fact that the milestone was reached with the dismissal of celebrated foe and star West Indies batsman Brian Lara.

The lanky paceman did it in style, claiming the 300th as part of a hat-trick - his first in first-class cricket. Playing his sixty-fourth Test, McGrath dismissed Sherwin Campbell (caught by Ricky Ponting at second slip for three), Lara (dismissed for a first-ball duck by a juggling catch from Stuart MacGill also in the slips) and Windies captain Jimmy Adams (caught by Justin Langer at short leg without score) to complete Australia's tenth hat-trick at this level.

"I think I did have one in grade cricket, but . . . I got the guy caught at second slip and he said it came straight off the foot. Apart from that, no. I've been on quite a few hat-tricks in Test cricket but this is the first time I got one," he said.

What made it all the more remarkable was that the thirty year-old had predicted earlier in the week that he would reach the 300-mark with wickets of Campbell and Lara.

"(It was) a bit of wishful thinking I think. I've had a bit of success against Sherwin as well so I thought it'd be a nice way to get the three hundred. If it's going to turn out like that every time I call it, I'll start calling a few more things. It's quite unusual the way it turned out," he mused.

However, after the day's play, it was the 300 wickets that excited him more.

"I guess a hat-trick is something you can get if you've played one Test or, like I have, sixty-four. It's one of those special things that is very rare and very exciting, whereas the three hundred, a lot of work goes into it on and off the field. A lot of Test matches, a lot of bowling, keeping yourself fit. So I guess at the end of the day three hundred wickets means a lot more as a fast bowler," he said.

It also puts him in elite company, with the likes of Courtney Walsh, Richard Hadlee and Malcolm Marshall and only a handful of others. It really is the mark of a truly great bowler, a fact not lost on McGrath.

"And now that I've got up there, if at the end of my career I'm compared to some of these guys, that's a huge privilege for me.

"To be regarded up there, with only three Australian bowlers to have done it, is a huge honour," he said.

The next goal for Wisden Australia's Cricketer of the Year is the 350 mark, but he says he wants to take it slowly.

"I'll just concentrate on one wicket at a time and hopefully get a few more in the second innings here and take it from there," he said.