|Photos||Video & Audio||Blogs||Statistics||Archive||Shop||Mobile|
The Verdict by Peter English at Melbourne
December 30, 2005
Nobody - especially his team-mates - is suggesting he is headed quickly for scrap, but during this series the world's most successful paceman has filled a holding role. If any regular wind was able to penetrate the two massive stands at the MCG he would have been running into it and his shifting situation was highlighted today as Australia sealed a 1-0 lead. McGrath waited 90 minutes to bowl and was drifting around the outfield with occasional encouragement and ball shining when Shaun Pollock ended the chances of a swift conclusion.
As Brett Lee has proved his attack-leading capabilities this summer, McGrath has been relegated to highly qualified support and after missing the Chappell-Hadlee Series, which he did with permission to rest, his impact has been reduced. Maidens have joined tight lines as his staple and in this match he has been surrounded by three hit men in Lee, Warne and MacGill.
In six Tests this season his economy rate has been less than his career mark of 2.5, but his strike-rate has expanded by about 15 balls a wicket. Despite his protestations that he's feeling great, he struggled on a flat pitch in Perth and may fill a back-up role for the remainder of his career.
With hands on hips McGrath watched Stuart MacGill and Shane Warne take the first opportunities for the opening half hour as Lee stretched to replace MacGill. Lee swept in and out, Warne removed Ashwell Prince to a contentious close catch and MacGill returned for a second stint before McGrath was eventually hollered from fine leg.
He didn't look grumpy at being Ricky Ponting's fourth-choice, but he delivered an irritating spell to the South Africans and a message that he should not be under-rated. Australia have been fortunate to have him working at an A-plus level for so long and within 30 minutes he secured the breakthrough his team-mates had struggled with by bowling Nicky Boje and removing Andre Nel.
By lunch he had 3 for 44 from 15 overs and had forced Pollock, who was rarely troubled and finished unbeaten on 67, to play, miss and leave. McGrath's part in the team may be changing and the dusk of his career approaching, but he is still invaluable and Australia have no short-term plans of sending him the same way as Gillespie and Kasprowicz.
Both batsmen seemingly have buckets of talent at their disposal and the backing of their captains, but soft dismissals relentlessly follow both around the Test arena
Josh Hazlewood has been on Australian cricket's radar since he was a teenager. The player that made a Test debut at the Gabba was a much-improved version of the tearaway from 2010
Stats highlights from the first day of the second Test between Australia and India in Brisbane
Brisbane was hot and humid and the insides of the Gabba even more so. M Vijay battled the hostile conditions and a testing attack to make a memorable hundred
When Wasim Akram swung Pakistan to their first global title
A look at some of cricket's most memorable strokes - and their makers
It's just to say that while India don't stand a chance on normal bouncy pitches, the seaming tracks give their bowlers a chance to take 20 wickets
Stats preview of the second Test between India and Australia at the Gabba
He served the purpose of being the hero to Pietersen's antihero, but given his appalling one-day form, is it time to be disloyal and get rid of him?