From the Vault: Glenn McGrath destroys England at the Gabba

first_imgBy Adam BurnettIF the 2005 series was a thrilling anomaly, the first Test of the 2006-07 Australian summer at the Gabba was a comprehensive return to a long-established Ashes norm.And it was the usual suspects who were responsible.After Ricky Ponting’s blitz led Australia to a total of 602-9 declared, the baton was passed to Glenn McGrath to do what he did best throughout his career: take English wickets.McGrath had famously missed Australia’s only two defeats of the preceding year’s Ashes, the results instructive as to his influence. In fact, in his 25 previous Tests against England, he had lost just four times, including three dead rubbers.But by November 2006, McGrath was not far off his 37th birthday – beyond the traditional fast-bowling expiry date – and his body had been pushed through the rigours of 119 Tests and more than 200 ODIs.There were rumblings he was finished: that the low-on-pace, high-on-accuracy recipe that had served him so well was no longer enough. He had missed Australia’s Test tours of South Africa and Bangladesh and an 11-month gap between Tests was considered poor preparation for the Ashes.Perhaps the critics should have listened to McGrath himself, who had repeatedly insisted his body was feeling as good as ever.By stumps on day two, with the wickets of openers Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook in his pocket, he remained upbeat – or defiant.“To get a couple of wickets early on does wonders for the confidence,” he said that evening.“I’m almost exactly where I can be and am really looking forward to day three. I reckon I can really nail it.”After his heroics in 2005 and his exploits in the intervening period, Kevin Pietersen had emerged as England’s most dangerous batsman. The aggressive right-hander scratched his way to 16 on the third morning before he shouldered arms to a ball that nipped back off the seam and trapped him lbw.At 78-4, the visiting side was staring at a monster first-innings deficit, and McGrath seized the advantage, taking another three wickets to finish with 50-6 as England were skittled for 157.On the same surface that Australia’s batsmen would manage more than 800 runs across two innings for the loss of just 10 wickets, and England would go on to post a respectable 370 in their second innings, McGrath’s contribution was pivotal.As he walked off the field to a strong applause from the Brisbane crowd, he briefly began hobbling and clutching his lower back, mocking media suggestions as emphatically as he had just done with the ball.“The boys were into me today for the number of times ‘old’ appeared in the headlines,” McGrath said later. “I was having a bit of fun; I wasn’t having a go at anyone.“To get that five-for, I couldn’t have hoped for a better Test comeback.” (Cricket.comau)last_img

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