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Hail Pidge

850 Views 0 Replies 1 Participant Last post by  incubi
I don't usually post straight from the CricInfo website, but I found this article so interesting that I had to share it.
It's a batsmens perspective on Glenn McGrath, & a well written one, at that.

This artical made me sad in a whistful kind'a way, to think that I'll never see McGrath striding toward the crease again. I believe that the it will be a very long time before the cricketing world sees the likes of Pidge again. If ever.
For me, a little part of cricket has died with the passing of Glenn McGrath's retirement.

I hope you enjoy reading this article, & that it manages to invoke some kind of feeling in you; wheather it's relief, spite, or sadness. Or it may just leave you to ponder a new age of cricket, without (arguably?) the greatest quick the world has known... will the playing fields be more level from here on? Can Glenn McGrath have had that great an impact on the modern game? We shall see soon enough.

Aakash Chopra - June 14, 2007

We had fielded five sessions on the placid Chinnaswamy pitch in the first Test against Australia in 2004. Now it was our turn to bat. As usual, I had to face the first ball. It was the first time I faced Glenn McGrath.
Having observed the pitch over the last day and a half, I quickly assessed the situation. McGrath was not a big swinger of the ball, and relied on movement off the pitch. The track was barren and dry. Our fast bowlers hadn't got any swing in the air, and our spinners had found it tough to extract spin as the surface was too flat. I figured there would not be any exaggerated sideways movement off the pitch. I also knew that McGrath had lost considerable pace over the years. I was very confident of doing well.
The first ball, as expected, didn't swing in the air. It was pitched outside the off stump. I let it go with ease. The second pitched closer to off stump, and I moved across and defended. The third, almost shockingly, was down the leg side.
The fourth pitched about where the first had, but instead of going straight to the wicketkeeper, came in sharply. I had already shouldered arms, anticipating that the ball would go straight on after pitching. It hit my pads instead, and I was on my way back: my first duck in Test cricket.
I was stupefied. You don't leave a delivery and get trapped in front everyday. Perhaps my reflexes and judgment were impaired after having fielded five sessions. Perhaps he had done something with the ball. I watched the replay about a thousand times but couldn't find anything different in his action. I told myself that you're not expected to have an answer to every ball or you'd never get out. I accepted his genius and moved on.
It wasn't over, though. After what seemed like a remarkably short time, I was facing McGrath again. This time I was ready for the in-dipper - which is what most bowlers would have opted for. McGrath, on the other hand, likes to set up a dismissal. I convinced myself he was going to take it away to start with, hoping I'd be too anxious to let it go and would fall for it. Sure enough, the first ball was an away-going delivery and I survived - for a bit at least.
I didn't play the next Test, but was up against him again on Nagpur's green-top. I played him (or rather, defended him at least) with relative ease. He consistently bowled slightly short of a length outside the off stump, and slipped in an occasional bouncer. The ball was passing me at chest height. The back-foot punch is not a good option when the ball is deviating after pitching and getting high on you, and to play a square-cut you require width. It goes without saying that width wasn't available that day.
My first convincing run off McGrath in that game was a single off the legs in his first over of the second innings. He kicked the ground and swore at himself. He obviously set himself extremely high standards. I don't remember seeing him getting hit for a four on the leg side that entire series - such was his control and discipline.
Bowlers with more pace have the ability to force batsmen into making mistakes, but they don't usually have a Plan B when things go wrong. That makes you realise afresh the genius of a McGrath. I'm not undermining McGrath's wicket-taking ability here, merely pointing out that he was more of a silent predator, who waited patiently till his hypnotised prey gave in.
Over the years batsmen have tried different methods to disrupt his immaculate line and length, but none have found a surefire way. McGrath proved to the world that you don't need express pace or exaggerated swing to become the best. I think I speak for most of my brotherhood when I say that as a batsman I'm really happy he has retired. But from the point of view of those who love the game, we're going to miss seeing one of the greatest sights in cricket: Glenn McGrath running in.
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