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Martin McCague

'I used to sledge while batting too'

An Aussie who played for England remembers how the press reacted to his selection

Interview by Jack Wilson

December 8, 2013

Comments: 4 | Text size: A | A

Martin McCague bowls in a tour match, Western Australia v England XI, Perth, 4th day, November 1, 1994
Martin McCague: liked to unsettle batsmen © Getty Images
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Teams: Australia | England

First cricketing hero
I didn't play cricket until I was 16 or 17. My first real hero was a guy I used to play with, who coached me quite a lot: Bob Massie. He had a great Ashes back in the 1970s, but I knew him as he was my first bowling coach. I wasn't really aware of what he'd done in the past as we didn't have Youtube and things like that in those days, so I didn't pay much attention to it. I hadn't played any cricket before that. I first got into it playing indoors through work when they were one short and asked me to play. I had always used to bowl to my brother in the nets, though. I had to go and pick him up once and the coaches challenged the youngsters to get them out. I asked if I could join in. The next thing I know, I'm getting phone calls from clubs in Perth asking me to come down and trial.

First memory of international cricket
It was an Ashes Test and there was a whole load of calamity surrounding the press. They were making a mountain out of a molehill [one newspaper described McCague as a rat who joined a sinking ship, because he was raised in Australia and played for England]. I just wanted to turn up and play but the press from both countries were making a big song and dance out of it. On the pitch, I managed to straight-drive one off Merv Hughes back past him. I don't know how I played it, but that was nice. Bowling-wise, the first ball will always live with me with the crowd getting right behind me, roaring me on. I remember my first wicket was a good one, getting Mark Taylor to nick off.

First time I sledged
I sledged a lot just to try and unsettle the batsman. I used to sledge when I was batting sometimes too. I still do while playing club cricket now! I've done it since I first started playing. I grew up in the bush so it was pretty standard to be going around making those smart-aleck comments.

First pro contract
It came when I was 18. I got a 12-month contract at the Australian Institute of Sport cricket academy. We were eating, drinking and living cricket 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. I loved it and thought it was brilliant. The training was intense and we got taught everything on and off the field, like dealing with the press. It made us all more rounded individuals. A few Test cricketers came out of the academy that year. Michael Bevan, Michael Slater and Brendon Julian were all there.

First experience of playing in front of the television cameras
It would have been a Sunday League game for Kent. But the first big one was the Lord's final in 1992. The cameras never bothered me, as I was always mindful of just doing my job. The crowd was much more in your face than the cameras. You block them out and don't really see them. The game was on the BBC, which was nice, but it means your friends are ringing you up to tell you you've done rubbish, or you've done well.

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (December 10, 2013, 2:08 GMT)

yet another Aussie "that England enticed to the dark side". honestly, they make a mockery of International cricket. and always have done.

Posted by TenDonebyaShooter on (December 8, 2013, 20:56 GMT)

'the game was on the BBC'. County cricket on the BBC. That seems like a long time ago.

Posted by Clavers on (December 8, 2013, 19:33 GMT)

He was quite triangular ;)

Posted by foozball on (December 8, 2013, 7:48 GMT)

"...made us all more rounded individuals..." imagine what Michael Slater was like *before* the rest of the country got to see him o_O

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