Birthday special: Glenn McGrath – Five most memorable spells by the Aussie legend

Former Australia pace spearhead Glenn McGrath is celebrating his 54th birthday today. The right-arm speedster is one of the finest and one of the most decorated pace bowlers to have graced the game. McGrath’s pinpoint accuracy is a part of the bowling folklore. His ability to bowl relentlessly with an impeccable line and length brought him immense success in the game. McGrath was the most successful fast bowler in Tests with 563 wickets when he retired from the game. In ODIs, he picked up 381 wickets in 250 games.

On his 53rd birthday, we recall five of his most memorable spells in the game.

5) 7-15 v Namibia in 2003 World Cup:

One of McGrath’s best spells in ODI cricket was seen in the 2003 World Cup when he blew Namibia away. Batting first, Australia piled up a big total of 301 for 6. The team from Down Under then bowled out Namibia for just 45 runs to register a 256-run win thanks to McGrath’s stunning spell of 7 for 15.

McGrath struck in the very first over to remove Jan-Berrie Burger before accounting for Morne Karge, Gavin Murgatroyd, Danie Keulder, Louis Burger, Deon Kotze, Bjorn Kotze. He bowled four maidens during his spell as he achieved the best-ever figures in a World Cup match.

4) 8-24 v Pakistan at Perth in 2004:

Playing Glenn McGrath on Australian pitches was one of the biggest challenges in the game and Pakistan realised it when they faced him in the Perth Test in 2004. The hosts thrashed the visitors by 491 runs thanks to McGrath’s best Test bowling figures of 8 for 24.

Chasing a mammoth target of 564 runs, Pakistan’s batting collapsed like a pack of cards as McGrath ran through their lineup. The former Australia pace spearhead had, in fact, taken the first seven wickets in the innings before Michael Kasprowicz denied him the opportunity of going for a perfect 10 by dismissing Mohammad Sami.

3) 5-14 v West Indies in 1999 World Cup:

One of the greatest qualities of Glenn McGrath was that he rarely failed to deliver on the big stage especially in the World Cups. He won the World Cup thrice and took more wickets (71) than anyone else in the history of the tournament.

McGrath also has the best figures in World Cup history. And one of his finest spells came in the 1999 World Cup when he picked up 5 wickets for just 14 runs against West Indies. McGrath dismissed Sherwin Campbell, Jimmy Adams, Brian Lara to blow away West Indies’ top-order before cleaning up tail-enders Mervyn Dillon and Courtney Walsh to pick up a five-wicket haul and bowl out West Indies for just 110.

2) 8-38 v England at Lord’s in 1997:

Glenn McGrath just enjoyed bowling against England in the Ashes. The legendary pacer picked up 157 wickets from 30 Ashes Tests at an average of 20.92. One of his best spells against England came in the 1997 Lord’s Test.

Opening the bowling in the first innings, McGrath wreaked havoc as he claimed stunning figures from 8 for 38 from 20.3 overs, helping Australia bowl out England for a paltry 77. The match ended in a draw but it established McGrath as one of the best in the world and also marked the beginning of his domination over England.

1) 5-53 v England at Lord’s in 2005:

Another memorable spell from Glenn McGrath came in the first Test of the 2005 Ashes at Lord’s. Australia were in desperate need of a good start with the ball after being bowled out for only 190. And McGrath once again rose to the occasion.

The pace spearhead, who came into the game needing only one wicket to reach the mark of 500, wreaked havoc on the hosts. McGrath dismissed opener Marcus Trescothick to reach the milestone of 500 wickets before going on to take four more wickets in no time to reduce the hosts to 5-21. Australia went on to win the match by 239 runs with McGrath taking four more wickets in the second innings.