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 read more

Matt Kemp’s home run dooms LA Dodgers to fifth straight loss

first_imgThere’s always a gravitational pull, however slight, toward Matt Kemp and Yasmani Grandal whenever the San Diego Padres play the Dodgers. The game seems to find them.Kemp and Grandal were the two pillars of a December 2014 trade that set both franchises on their current course: The Dodgers into a platoon-heavy lineup with fewer superstars; the Padres to a more star-heavy outfit with few platoons. Kemp scored the first run of the game Friday after he doubled in the fourth inning. Grandal answered with a solo home run in the sixth. In between, Kemp threw out Grandal trying to stretch a line drive off the wall from a single into a double.Kemp got the last laugh. His three-run home run off Chris Hatcher in the eighth inning in a tie game lifted the Padres to a 5-1 win before an announced crowd of 49,686 at Dodger Stadium. “I think anybody if they were playing against their old team — somewhere they’ve been for so long — I like the energy in this ballpark,” Kemp said. “It’s a good stadium, the fans are loud, and people feed off of that.”The Dodgers (12-12) have lost five straight games for the first time since August of last year, all at home. They’ve scored nine runs during the streak — the first four against the Marlins, now the Padres, two teams that haven’t contended for the playoffs since the National League began awarding two wild-card berths.San Diego (8-15) had lost five in a row. Three and a half games separate the Padres from first place in the NL West, where suddenly a .500 record is good enough to leave the Giants and Dodgers tied at the top.That the scuffle is occurring in April and not, say, September, was enough to console Grandal.“I was on a San Diego team that went 0-10 two years in a row on road trips,” he said. “We would be playing great. All of a sudden, straight downfall. Seeing the game, seeing what we’re going through, that’s my experience. We’re not going bad. Guys aren’t pressing. We’re just playing baseball. We don’t get an out here or there, then all of a sudden the game kind of gets away. It’s just turning the corner, coming back the next day and doing it all over again.” Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorcenter_img For Grandal, a switch-hitter, it was his first home run right-handed this season and the seventh right-handed home run of his career.The only other positive for the Dodgers: Alex Wood delivered his best start of the season. The left-hander allowed only the double by Kemp, followed by an RBI single by Melvin Upton Jr., to taint his pitching ledger. Wood pitched seven innings and allowed only five hits, walked one batter, and struck out nine. Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt “and I think we might have found something small in my delivery that might help my timing,” Wood said. “We worked on it in my bullpen session. I threw a lot in between my start from last week. I felt like I really finally clicked tonight on all cylinders.”The change lies in his front foot. Wood kicks it up higher than most pitchers, enough to resemble a karate kick mid-motion. Friday, it was lower.“It was something that I thought was the last piece of the puzzle as far as my timing, as far as getting that consistency back,” he said. “I felt it worked tonight.Continuing a pattern begun last season, Wood has allowed two runs in two home starts this year, and 16 runs (13 earned) in three road games. Continuing a pattern begun five days earlier, Wood also reached base twice on a single and a walk.In fact, Wood and number-8 hitter Joc Pederson twice found themselves on base with two outs. Both times, Padres starter Cesar Vargas struck out leadoff hitter Chase Utley to end the inning.Vargas was masterful all around. Despite having all of one major league start before Friday (and all of three starts above Single-A in his life), the 24-year-old right-hander mostly cruised through 5 1/3 shutout innings. The Dodgers didn’t score until reliever Brad Hand took over in the sixth; Grandal homered to left field on Hand’s fifth pitch.Vargas allowed four hits, walked three and struck out six batters.If the Dodgers aren’t pressing, as Grandal believes, they’ve only fixed part of what ails them.Hatcher (2-3) has allowed runs in three of his last four appearances. His earned-run average is 8.44. But he was the Dodgers’ eighth-inning pitcher in a tie game Friday because manager Dave Roberts had run Joe Blanton and Pedro Baez out too often recently.Hatcher walked Brett Wallace, allowed a single to Jon Jay on a grounder off his leg, then got ahead of Kemp 0-2 before hanging a split-fingered fastball that Kemp crushed into the Dodgers’ bullpen.Roberts, in assessing Hatcher’s role on the team, was almost at a loss for words.“The execution — you can’t walk (Wallace) to start the inning,” he said. “You know (Travis) Janikowski’s in the wings to run for him. We’ll look at it.”Kemp has a .320 batting average and 11 RBIs in 20 career games against the Dodgers. Grandal has a .190 average and two RBIs in 14 games against the Padres.Friday was less a referendum on the trade than a good memory for Kemp’s team, a bad one for Grandal’s, and a reversal of roles for both sides in that regard. The Dodgers had beaten the Padres in their previous nine meetings.last_img read more