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McGrath marches on

S Rajesh looks at how the numbers stack up for Glenn McGrath

S Rajesh
S Rajesh
20-Jul-2005 Chennai conditions suited him less - he went wicketless in a match for only the fifth time - but expect him to come out firing at Nagpur, which will mark his 100th Test match.
The pitch at Nagpur might not be one most fast bowlers will want to carry around, but then McGrath has never been one to grumble about the kind of surfaces he bowls on. A look at his stats show that he has been a force in all sorts of pitches, and in all sorts of conditions. He has been least effective in Pakistan, but even there, his 19 wickets in five Tests have come at a very respectable 31 apiece. In all other countries, he averages below 30, while in the subcontinent he averages a phenomenal 23.25.
In Tests Wickets Average
Australia & NZ 52 229 22.50
West Indies 10 50 20.70
Subcontinent 17 64 23.25
England 11 68 18.27
South Africa & Zimbabwe 9 35 22.14
A feature of McGrath's 11-year career has been his amazing consistency. Since the series in the West Indies in 1994-95, when he became a matchwinner for the first time, he has played in 25 series (excluding one-off Tests and the ongoing series), and only on four of those occasions has his average gone past 30. On the other hand, he has finished with a sub-20 average ten times.
In fact, one of the striking features of his career has been his consistency. As the progression table suggests, McGrath has rarely suffered from a prolonged loss of form.
Milestone In Test no. Ave at end of the Test
100 wickets 23 24.69
200 wickets 45 23.44
300 wickets 64 21.71
400 wickets 87 21.52
McGrath has been especially lethal at hunting down openers. He has 122 such scalps, and only Courtney Walsh and Kapil Dev have more. In percentage terms, he is next only to Kapil, who was undoubtedly a high-class new-ball operator, but was also helped by the fact that he was the only such bowler in the Indian side. McGrath, on the other hand, has had pretty good fast bowlers operating from the other end as well.
Bowler Openers dismissed Total wickets Percentage
Kapil 127 434 29.26
Walsh 125 519 24.08
McGrath 122 446 27.35
Hadlee 111 431 25.75
Akram 104 414 25.12
One opener who'd vouch for McGrath's potency is Michael Atherton, who has been at the receiving end 19 times in the 17 Tests they've played. A feature of McGrath's career has been his ability to target the best batsman in the opposition ranks, and then nail them. Brian Lara has been dismissed 13 times, Jacques Kallis six times, and Sachin Tendulkar five times, the maximum number of times that any bowler has dismissed him.
Batsman No. of times dismissed In Tests
Atherton 19 17
Lara 13 20
Jimmy Adams 12 18
Sherwin Campbell 11 15
Alec Stewart 11 20
McGrath would normally be quite a handful even for a well-set batsman, but to a new man at the crease, he is quite a terror. No bowler has dismissed a batsman for a duck as many times as McGrath's 82.
Bowler No. of dismissals
for ducks
McGrath 82
Akram 79
Walsh 79
Muralitharan 77
Waqar 76
Shaun Pollock has often been compared to McGrath, and while Pollock's stats stack up quite favourably, there's one area where McGrath runs away with it. Pollock is noticeably better against right-handers, averaging less than 18 against them. Against lefties, he struggles, averaging over 42 per wicket (in matches since September 2001). McGrath, on the other hand, is consistent against them all, as the table below shows.
McGrath Wickets Ave Strike rate
v right-handers 63 23.21 61.89
v left-handers 25 21.92 59.92
Pollock Wickets Ave Strike rate
v right-handers 92 17.21 46.62
v left-handers 26 39.92 109.58
And what about McGrath the batsman? An average of 6.34 doesn't say much, but he has constantly been improving that figure, with ample help from a certain Steve Waugh. The table below shows his progress, and while it's been minimal, it has been in the right direction: he has improved 65% since his 20th Test. Apart from reaching the 500-wicket mark, his next goal might also be to push his batting average towards double digits.
After Test no Runs Ave
20 38 2.23
40 157 5.06
60 295 5.78
80 404 6.62
99 457 6.34