McGrath the one-day batsman March 6, 2007

Gloriously inept

Ever thought of Glenn McGrath the one-day bowler up against Glenn McGrath the one-day batsman?

Glenn McGrath: a freak of nature as a one-day batsman © AFP

The end is now in sight for one of the great international careers: that of Glenn McGrath - the batsman. While McGrath's bowling career has been a long story of sustained, tedious excellence, his batting has been a secret joy - gloriously inept and largely unreported.

He has always been an enjoyably bad batsman in Tests, but it is in one-day internationals that he has really flexed his lack of muscles. Somehow, he has managed to collect fewer one-day runs than wickets. As retirement looms, it's time to take a close look at the phenomenon that is Glenn McGrath: the anti-Tendulkar. Here are 30 things you may not know about his one-day batting.

McGrath faces one ball per match. He has played 239 one-day internationals and faced 236 balls.

The ball he faces is typically a dot. He has only scored 115 runs.

His average innings lasts three-and-a-half balls.

Mostly, he is not out: he has been out only 30 times in 68 innings.

In an average year, he has five innings, faces 17 balls and makes seven runs for twice out. One of his two dismissals is a duck.

He has gone through 27 series without scoring a run.

He has gone through 14 series without even having a bat.

His average is 3.83. It goes up in New Zealand, to 16.00, and down in England, to 1.00. He is better away (4.20) or on neutral turf (4.00) than at home (3.56).

His favourite opponents are New Zealand, whom he has pummelled for 37 runs at a rate of more than one a match (31 games). Against South Africa, he has managed only 12 runs in 39 games.

He started as he meant to go on, with a duck.

In his first series, he batted four times.

He has never batted that many times in a series since.

He has hit seven fours, at a rate of one every two years.

He is still waiting for his first six. (In Tests, he did once hit one.)

His most prolific series was the home triangular of 2001-02, against South Africa and New Zealand, when he made 14 runs.

West Indies have only ever got him out once (in eight innings) and India twice (in nine).

In 2004, he didn't make a run, despite playing nine games. In 2001 he played 18 games and made only one run.

No such luck in the one-day arena for McGrath © AFP

His highest score is 11, at Auckland in 1999-2000, which is apt because that is where he almost invariably bats.

He hasn't reached double figures this century.

He prefers day-nighters, averaging 4.31, whereas he only manages 2.50 in day games.

Only twice has he appeared anywhere other than No.11.

The first time was in the Tsunami Appeal match of 2004-05, when he went in at No.6, which proves that it wasn't a serious match and has no business being included in the records. It didn't affect his game: he still made 0.

The second time was the other day against England at Sydney, when he had a shock promotion to No.10, which suggests that Adam Gilchrist, the captain that day, doesn't rate Shaun Tait very highly - although Tait scored 11 off 10 balls, while McGrath had managed only 1 off 7. Australia lost by 92 runs.

Of McGrath's 115 career runs, 94 have been made in defeat, in 71 games.

He has finished on the winning side 160 times, batting only 14 times, making 18 runs, and only being out three times. If he bats, it means Australia are in trouble; if he passes 5, they lose.

When Australia tie a match, he always bats, but never gets off the mark.

He is twice the batsman in big tournaments. When there are five or more teams involved, his average is 6.00, whereas in two-team series, it's 2.77.

He's a liability in semi-finals. He has played seven, batted five times, and never made a run.

In the World Cup, he has played 28 games and made three runs, all in the same innings, against NZ at Port Elizabeth in 2003. Shane Bond took six for 23, and Australia still won by 96 runs.

If McGrath bowled to himself, he'd never concede a run.

Tim de Lisle is a former editor of Wisden and blogger on Cricinfo. His website is