Recently retired Australian right-hand fast bowler Glenn McGrath is regarded as one of the greatest cricketers of all time. Every time he walks onto the pitch he is greeted with ‘Ooh, aah… Glenn McGrath’, an affectionate testament to the immense effect he has had upon the sport.
He is most famous for his extraordinary accuracy, making him the perfect partner to Shane Warne’s unpredictable spin bowling and Brett Lee’s extreme speed in the later years of his career. Unfortunately, his sometimes un-sportsmanlike behaviour has intermittently come to the fore, resulting in fines and disciplinary warnings. Nevertheless, he is still rightly regarded as one of the finest fast bowlers in history.
In the last few years of his international career Glenn perfected his swing bowling, both traditional and reverse, to make him an even more formidable opponent. He was the first Australian fast bowler to play 100 Tests and was a fairly decent fielder as well as an exceptional bowler. He received many accolades over the years and still holds the world record for the highest number of Test wickets by a fast bowler but, even if such achievements are surpassed in the future, he will still go down in cricketing history as one of the greats.
The Early Years
Glenn Donald McGrath was born in Dubbo, New South Wales on 9th February 1970 and began playing cricket in Narromine where he grew up. It was here that Glenn was discovered by Doug Walters, a former Australian all-rounder; and he moved to Sydney to play grade cricket for Sutherland. In 1992, he joined the New South Wales state team and then had a meteoric rise to international level the following summer.
McGrath made his international Test debut against New Zealand in November of 1993, aged just 23 and took a three-wicket haul. He was renowned for his fantastic accuracy and his height (6’5), combined with his long arms, allowed him to create an unpredictable bounce, which often left his opponents, quite literally, stumped. Another thing he was famous for was publicly focusing his attentions on the opposing team’s best batsmen before a match in an attempt to put them off, a strategy that was often very successful.
McGrath played for New South Wales from his debut in 1993 until 2006, but he also spent some time in England playing county cricket. For the 2000 season, he joined the Worcestershire county cricket team and certainly made his mark. He took 80 wickets in 14 first-class games; his greatest haul being 8-41 against Northamptonshire. It was while in England that he finally achieved the elusive batting half-century in first class cricket, with a score of 55 against Nottinghamshire (although he would repeat the feat at Test level against New Zealand in 2004, notching 61). In 2004 he joined the Middlesex county team and, although his time there was less successful, he still gained 9 wickets in four outings.
Glenn McGrath and England
During the 2001 Ashes Series, McGrath was named Man of the Series, which was unsurprising considering his stats. He took 32 wickets at a rate of 16.93 and it was during this series that he surpassed the previous record of 355 to become the highest wicket-taker among Australian fast-bowlers.
For the past decade Glenn McGrath has been the main thorn in England’s side and some believe it was the injuries that plagued him throughout the 2005 Ashes series that allowed England victory. Among his other titles, Glenn claims the most dismissals by one bowler, having dismissed Michael Atherton of England 19 times throughout his career. Moreover, it was while in England that McGrath became the fourth bowler to ever take 500 wickets, dismissing Marcus Trescothick at Lord’s in the 2005 Ashes series.
Despite his ill-fated prediction at the previous Ashes series, McGrath, ever the optimist, again predicted a 5-0 triumph over the English, and this time he was right. From the start England were in trouble, and Glenn McGrath was one of the causes. He took 6 wickets at the first Test at the Gabba, and totalled 21 wickets over the entire series at an average of 23.90. He also scored 10 runs and one catch, making his final Ashes appearance a monumental one to remember. It was just before the final Test in Sydney, on 23rd December 2006 that McGrath announced his retirement from international Test cricket. He continued his astounding wicket-taking streak at the 2007 Cricket World Cup in the West Indies. He became the leading wicket-taker in history and was the top wicket-taker of the tournament, with 26 wickets to his name and, unsurprisingly, was named man of the tournament. A perfect way to end a near-perfect career.
Statistics and Awards
- Wisden Cricketer of the Year – 1998
- Wisden Australia Cricketer of the Year – 1999
- Allan Border Medal – 2000
- Test Player of the Year – 2000
- One Day International Player of the Year – 2001
- Wisden Australia Cricketer of the Year – 2005-6.
- Best ODI figures – 7-15 (against Namibia during the 2003 World Cup)
- Best Test figures – 8-24 (against Pakistan at Perth in 2004)
- Total Test Wickets – 563 (in 124 Tests, the third highest of all-time)
- Total One Day International Wickets – 344 (in 231 ODIs)
- Total Ducks – 35 (more than any other Australian)
Glenn McGrath is happily married to Jane, with two children, a son, James, and daughter, Holly. Following his retirement and his wife’s repeated fights against both bone and breast cancer, he uses his fame and money to help promote breast cancer charities. His hobbies include wild-pig hunting and cooking, though not necessarily of what he catches! He has also published a book called the ‘Glenn McGrath Barbecue Cookbook: Barbecue with the Master’.
But is this really the end?
Nothing has been confirmed as of yet, but there have been rumours that Glenn has been offered the chance to continue playing Twenty20 cricket in the Indian cricket league. So this may not be the last we’ve heard of Mr McGrath…