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McGrath winds up career in typical fashion: among the wickets

McGrath winds up career in typical fashion: among the wickets

Glenn McGrath finished in the only way possible: with a wicket and a win.
The 37-year-old pace bowler wound up a 14-year international career Saturday with a 53-run win over Sri Lanka in the World Cup final, earning an unprecedented third straight World Cup winner's medal.
McGrath, who postponed his retirement plans by three months to play in the Caribbean, was as economical as ever and took 1-31 to slow the Sri Lankan run chase.
The player of the tournament had Russel Arnold caught behind by wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist as the game finished in virtual darkness.
"It's a bit dark but I'm loving every minute of it," McGrath said. "Each time we have taken it to the next level and I'm going to make the most of it now."
McGrath was a stalwart of the dominant Australia team for more than a decade and famously spurned the opportunity to sit out occasional matches to rest in favor of maintaining the rhythm and routine that was so important to his game.
With his unerring accuracy and variations in pace, he took 563 wickets in test cricket, more than any other fast bowler, and 381 in 250 one-day internationals.
At this World Cup, he overtook Pakistan great Wasim Akram as the tournament's all-time leading wicket-taker and set the record of the greatest number of wickets at a single competition.
He finished with 26 at this tournament, three more than the previous best set by Chaminda Vaas in 2003, and 71 in the competition overall.
The refurbished 28,000-seat Kensington Oval was a fitting arena for his farewell _ it was where he took his first five-wicket haul in test cricket 12 years ago. That 10-wicket win for Australia over a still powerful West Indies team featured overall figures of 8-114 for the big bowler and marked his arrival on the world scene a year into his career,
The crowd Saturday was dominated by Australians who cheered him throughout and displayed banners dedicated to him.
"Ooh-ah, Glenn McGrath, ooh-ah Glenn McGrath," they chanted.
Teams hoping that age and occasional injury _ including a suspect back _ had diminished his powers, had such notions swiftly dispelled as McGrath powered through the tournament in an all-conquering team.
South Africa and New Zealand each tried to take on McGrath in Australia's past two games, possibly looking at the aging bowler as an easier target than the faster Shaun Tait or Nathan Bracken.
The result for McGrath was five wickets for a total 43 runs, including a haul of 3-18 in a crushing seven-wicket semifinal win over the Proteas.
He took a wicket with his first over of a match six times at this World Cup, suggesting that, had he chosen to, he could still be an automatic choice for the foreseeable future.
"This tour I probably felt more relaxed than I ever have," he said. "I enjoyed it and maybe that's the reason why I've played well."
McGrath had few opportunities Saturday, bowling only seven overs in the rain-affected match. His first three overs cost only six runs, but Kumar Sangakkara attacked him in his fourth and it cost 14 runs, with even a rare six being struck.
As rain and darkness fell, he was brought back on and proved unplayable, preventing Sri Lanka from launching the big run chase it needed.
As formidable as Sangakkara and Sanath Jayasuriya, who hit 63, are, McGrath cites India's Sachin Tendulkar and West Indies' Brian Lara, who also stepped down after his team's final match of the World Cup, as the best batsmen he played.
"I feel, from bowling to those two guys, that Brian was probably slightly in front of Sachin when they were both at their peak," McGrath said.
That doesn't mean McGrath was ever intimidated by them.
"Being a fast bowler, bowling to the guys classed as the best in the world is probably a true indication of where you stand."
Perhaps the biggest indication of where McGrath stood in the game comes not from the records he set or the wickets he took, but from how much Australia missed him when he was not there.
In 2005, he hurt his ankle by stepping on a ball in training and missed two of the five Ashes tests against England. Australia lost both and the series 2-1 to surrender the Ashes after 18 years.
"There's no doubt we're going to miss him," said captain Ricky Ponting, who with McGrath and Gilchrist also won a third straight World Cup title. "He's been one of the all-time greats of the game.
"What he's been able to do for Australian cricket over such a long period of time is unbelievable."
McGrath has already tried offering advice to the next generation of fast bowlers.
"My approach has always been quite simple. The more complicated you make things, the more things can go wrong," he said. "I always felt if you can bowl 99 balls out of 100, hitting the deck, then you'll take wickets."
And as for batting, the No. 11 had some even more simple advice.
"Make sure the 10 batsmen in front of you score a lot of runs."


Updated : 2021-04-14 07:57 GMT+08:00