Once you faced McGrath, he locked you in
Glenn McGrath's timeline shows he has been a consistent performer for Australia for more than a decade
'I haven't seen another bowler who worked away at you relentlessly and asked questions
every single ball' - Allan Donald offers tribute to Glen McGrath
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I'll miss Glenn McGrath's grumpiness because he was one of the most grumpy
fast bowlers I've ever known. He was always chatting to himself. The one
moment that I remember most vividly is when he got out when needing five
to win [at Sydney in 1993-94, where Fanie de Villiers took 6 for 43]. I'll
never forget that, his face and him standing in the middle of the ground
at the SCG while Craig McDermott was already halfway to the pavilion.
He was just standing there, couldn't believe what had happened. That
probably stood out for me. But there haven't been many things in McGrath's
career that have gone that badly wrong.
His wife has been very ill as well. He probably feels that it's time to
look after his family. Both he and his wife have been ultra-positive about
whole thing. Deep down, he maybe thinks: 'Right, I've done my bit.' In my
view, he's done more than that. He did say a couple of months ago that he
felt he had another couple of years left in him. But sometimes, the
realisation just hits you all of a sudden. A lot of batsmen around the world
will say: Thank God. He's been a very special cricketer, but maybe he
feels it's the right time.
He's had a terrific career. He's been a champion, not only for Australia
but for the game of cricket. To fill those boots is going to be almost
impossible. You won't find a McGrath again. You won't find another Shane
Warne either. They're very special individuals.
What made him special? Just his absolute skill and the way he wore batsmen
down. Once you faced McGrath, he locked you in. You knew that every single
ball would be a test. His areas were so much tighter than anyone else's,
and he constantly questioned your ability. Pollock is the only other guy I
can think of who comes close to him. He was accurate and he wore you down.
Not many bowlers in cricket history have been as accurate as he is while
being able to boast of the sort of record that he has.
He had a very uncomplicated action. It wasn't heavy on the body and he
didn't hit the crease as hard as most people do. He was a lot like Wasim
Akram, who also played for a long time. They just kissed the surface.
Their actions were so basic that there was not much that could go wrong.
Another guy like that was Courtney Walsh, who could have played till he
was 45 [laugh]. The body couldn't do it anymore, but their uncomplicated
actions gave them a chance. You talk of elasticity and long levers - they
'Once you faced McGrath, he locked you in. You knew that every single ball would be a test. His areas were so much tighter than anyone else's'
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Even now, I think he's got a year or two left in him. But maybe the body
just doesn't want to go through it anymore.
I haven't seen another bowler who worked away at you relentlessly and asked questions
every single ball. It didn't take him long to work you over. He wasn't
scared to make it public either that he'd be on your case. It made you
think. And he was very quick to back it up. He's targetted a lot of people
in his career and knocked them over, no problem whatsoever.
Where do Australia go from here? Well, Stuart Clark is right there. He's
matured at the right time. He's 31, and seems to be a lot like Michael
Hussey. Australia have found someone in Clark who can take over the mantle
from McGrath. He's already shown that he's a class bowler, but 560-odd
wickets is a long way away. You won't be able to replace that.
As told to Dileep Premachandran