Glenn McGrath is one of the greatest fast bowlers to play the game. His tally of 563 test wickets is easily the highest for any pacers in the longest format of the game.
In the international stage, Glenn McGrath has 949 wickets which is another record for pacers with Wasim Akram coming second. McGrath also has a wonderful record in the game’s biggest show, World Cup and he is the most successful bowler in the World Cup with 71 wickets from 39 matches with an average of 18.19.
McGrath was born on 9th February 1970 and let us a throwback to some of his greatest spells in international cricket across formats.
This was one of the strongest Australian team and at that time Perth was widely considered as the fastest pitch in the world. Pakistan with their poor record in Australia was not the favorite. But once they won the toss and sent their opponents in, they did a good job to make then tottering at 78 for 5. But once again Justin Langer and Adam Gilchrist combined to build an important performance. Australia finally ended with 381, half of it score by Langer who got out agonizingly close to a double century. Michael Kasprowicz took 5 wickets and helped his team to get a 202 runs lead. Australians were much more attacking in the second innings and after Langer and Ponting were out for 97 and 98, Damien Martyn was successful to reach his century. At that point, Australians declared setting a massive target of 564 in front of the Pakistanis.
It was always going to be a very difficult task for the Pakistanis but McGrath with his accuracy and control made this ridiculously easy for the Australians. He took first seven wickets of that innings. His first wicket Imran Farhat was leg before missing a ball on off stump line. Out of the next six wickets, three were caught by Gilchrist behind the stump and rest three were caught on slip and gully by Hayden, Warne, and Clarke. He also got Pakistan’s 9th wicket (his 8th) when a tame drive from Shoaib Akhtar Went straight to Darren Lehmann in cover. Pakistan surrendered for a meek 77 allout giving Australia win by 491 runs, then the 4th highest victory margin in tests. McGrath bowled unchanged for 16 overs and ended with an astonishing 8 for 24. This was the second best test bowling analysis in an innings for Australia after Arthur Mailey’s 9 for 121 against England in 1921.
This was McGrath’s second 8-wicket haul in tests. The first one came seven years earlier in Lords against hapless England batting line up. That time it was the best bowling performance by a pacer in Ashes which was later broken by Stuart Broad during his 8 for 15.
One Day Internationals
As we have already mentioned McGrath always saved his best during the world cups. And it is no surprise that two of his best ODI bowling performance came during World Cup matches. During the 1999 World Cup match against West Indies at Old Trafford, Manchester McGrath presented a wonderful display of pace bowling to finish with 5 for 14 in 8.4 overs. The wickets included Brian Lara with whom McGrath had a long-standing battle in various forms in test and one day cricket. McGrath’s five wickets and Warne’s magic spell of 10-4-11-3 restricted Windies to just 110.
The Australia tactic of chasing this paltry total slowly to ensure the West Indies qualifies for the super six in the expanse of New Zealand faced huge criticism from the cricket world. But finally, New Zealand qualified thanks to their big win against Scotland the next day.
One of the biggest mismatches happened during the 2003 World Cup when the new boys Namibia were slotted against the world champion Australia in Potchefstroom. Australia batted first after winning the toss and half-centuries from Hayden, Symonds and Lehmann took them to 301. Namibia would know that this target is out of reach for them against a bowling line up of Glenn McGrath, Lee, Bichel, and Hogg but at least they would hope to give some fight and bat deep into their allocated 50 overs. But with McGrath in the prime form, it was not going to be. He picked up a wicket in the very first wicket and kept picking wickets at regular intervals. He took seven out of the first 8 wickets to fall, 4 of those caught by Gilchrist. His final analysis was 7 for 15, a World Cup record. For Namibia, extras contributed one-third of the total 45. Only the captain Deon Kotze reached double-figure (10) and four out of the rest 10 batsmen were out for a duck.