The growls and grimaces — intrinsic to the Glenn McGrath legend built over nearly 1000 International wickets — seem like a distorted memory. “What are we going to talk about today?” asks McGrath to a gathering of mediapersons, his affability and quick-wit marking out his off-field persona.
The 43-year-old, who’s in the city for a periodical coaching camp at the MRF Pace Foundation, spoke on several issues ranging from the problems plaguing Australian cricket to the varied dynamics of fast-bowling.
At the end of the nearly hour-long session, he quipped: “I didn’t do it that long when I was playing”.
Australia’s decline: Our bowlers have done well but we have struggled to find the right batting combination. We have changed a few things around this last Test so hopefully we will improve but Australia has been well and truly beaten.
The main difference is one player: Ian Bell. You take him out of England and they aren’t looking too good either.
When you lose seven senior players, you lose a lot of experience. That’s why Ricky Ponting, towards the end of his career, may not have produced the runs but what he’s doing for the young batsmen was invaluable.
Michael Clarke has played a lot of cricket as has Shane Watson but that’s not the same as guys with 100-odd Tests.
Fissures in the team: The media has really built that up. I spent some time with the team and there was good harmony. When a team is winning, it’s easy to have harmony, isn’t it?
Controversy surrounding Darren Lehmann’s remarks on Stuart Broad: When I played, I copped it from the crowds. If I went to another country and they didn’t give me a hard time, I would be a bit concerned (laughs). Everyone knows Lehmann and you have to take his comments in context.
DRS: At the start of the Ashes, I was a big fan of the DRS. The more I have seen it I can see why India doesn’t like it. I have lost a bit of faith in it.
Zaheer Khan’s fitness stint in France and his comeback prospects: Zaheer’s got to work harder than what he did when he first started. Doing training camps by himself is probably what he needs. Zaheer has so much experience, but at the end of the day you have to perform.
Increasing injuries to Australian quicks despite rotation policy: It’s got its pros and cons. One of the reasons why fast bowlers get injured is you don’t have off seasons anymore.
I have trained so much harder in the off seasons than anything I did in the middle. I played 55 Test matches in a row without missing one. The guys who are getting injured all the time… there are little inefficiencies — like a mixed action — or they are not physically fit or strong enough.
That comes with age as well as work ethic. It’s in the mid-to-late 20s that a fast bowler begins to mature.
Developing pace packs — design or accident? It’s a bit of both. There’s no shortage of fast bowling stocks around. It’s about keeping the guys on the park. Dale Steyn, (Vernon) Philander, (James) Anderson… they have bowled a lot without getting injured.