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One fast bowler hails another

Once you faced McGrath, he locked you in

Allan Donald

January 5, 2007

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'I haven't seen another bowler who worked away at you relentlessly and asked questions every single ball' - Allan Donald offers tribute to Glen McGrath © Getty Images
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I'll miss Glenn McGrath's grumpiness because he was one of the most grumpy fast bowlers I've ever known. He was always chatting to himself. The one moment that I remember most vividly is when he got out when needing five to win [at Sydney in 1993-94, where Fanie de Villiers took 6 for 43]. I'll never forget that, his face and him standing in the middle of the ground at the SCG while Craig McDermott was already halfway to the pavilion.

He was just standing there, couldn't believe what had happened. That probably stood out for me. But there haven't been many things in McGrath's career that have gone that badly wrong.

His wife has been very ill as well. He probably feels that it's time to look after his family. Both he and his wife have been ultra-positive about whole thing. Deep down, he maybe thinks: 'Right, I've done my bit.' In my view, he's done more than that. He did say a couple of months ago that he felt he had another couple of years left in him. But sometimes, the realisation just hits you all of a sudden. A lot of batsmen around the world will say: Thank God. He's been a very special cricketer, but maybe he feels it's the right time.

He's had a terrific career. He's been a champion, not only for Australia but for the game of cricket. To fill those boots is going to be almost impossible. You won't find a McGrath again. You won't find another Shane Warne either. They're very special individuals.

What made him special? Just his absolute skill and the way he wore batsmen down. Once you faced McGrath, he locked you in. You knew that every single ball would be a test. His areas were so much tighter than anyone else's, and he constantly questioned your ability. Pollock is the only other guy I can think of who comes close to him. He was accurate and he wore you down. Not many bowlers in cricket history have been as accurate as he is while being able to boast of the sort of record that he has.

He had a very uncomplicated action. It wasn't heavy on the body and he didn't hit the crease as hard as most people do. He was a lot like Wasim Akram, who also played for a long time. They just kissed the surface. Their actions were so basic that there was not much that could go wrong. Another guy like that was Courtney Walsh, who could have played till he was 45 [laugh]. The body couldn't do it anymore, but their uncomplicated actions gave them a chance. You talk of elasticity and long levers - they typified that.



'Once you faced McGrath, he locked you in. You knew that every single ball would be a test. His areas were so much tighter than anyone else's' © Getty Images
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Even now, I think he's got a year or two left in him. But maybe the body just doesn't want to go through it anymore.

I haven't seen another bowler who worked away at you relentlessly and asked questions every single ball. It didn't take him long to work you over. He wasn't scared to make it public either that he'd be on your case. It made you think. And he was very quick to back it up. He's targetted a lot of people in his career and knocked them over, no problem whatsoever.

Where do Australia go from here? Well, Stuart Clark is right there. He's matured at the right time. He's 31, and seems to be a lot like Michael Hussey. Australia have found someone in Clark who can take over the mantle from McGrath. He's already shown that he's a class bowler, but 560-odd wickets is a long way away. You won't be able to replace that.

As told to Dileep Premachandran

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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