November 23, 2009

Australian cricket

Marveling at a miked-up McGrath

Brydon Coverdale

In the Age, Martin Blake writes that the most fascinating piece of sports theatre on television over the weekend was the miking up of Australia's legends in the All-Star Twenty20 match - specifically the insight into the bowling plans of Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne.

Here is McGrath bowling seam-up with the new ball, chiding himself about only reaching 110 km/h speeds, but still ridiculously miserly. McGrath is approaching 40, and has played two Twenty20 games in the past six months, but he could bowl stump-to-stump in his sleep.

Here's where the brains kick in. McGrath bowls a couple of inswingers to the left-handed David Warner, cramping him for room. Then he flags that he will bowl a little slider, running the fingers down the seam and angling it across Warner. He tips that Warne, standing at slip, will get himself a catch. On cue, Warner nicks it. McGrath only gets one aspect wrong. The catch flies to Gilchrist behind the stumps. Gilchrist, who also is miked up and who has heard the plan hatched, is exultant.

Peter Roebuck in the Sydney Morning Herald enjoyed Shane Warne's battle with Michael Clarke and McGrath's surgical removal of Warner.

His wicket brought to mind his finest piece of bowling, his hat-trick against the West Indies in Perth in 2000. Then McGrath began by beating Sherwin Campbell with a fullish outswinger, followed by a cutter angling across Brian Lara, and completed the trick with a lifter directed at Jimmy Adams's shoulder. All three wickets were beautifully conceived. All three were precisely pitched. They were not dismissals, they were executions. McGrath's greatness ought not to be forgotten.

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Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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