Cricket

McGrath picks his top five batsmen

Glenn McGrath, scalp-hunter supreme, picked the five batsmen he “greatly admired” in a chat with The Hindu, here, recently.

The most successful paceman in Test cricket with 563 wickets, McGrath’s words carry a lot of value. Operating with laser-guided precision, the Aussie legend was involved in gripping battles with some of these formidable batsmen.

Director of Cricket at the MRF Pace Foundation here, McGrath said, “The names are not necessarily in a particular order but these are batsmen from my time for whom I have a lot of respect.”

Sachin Tendulkar: He is up there obviously, such a quality batsman. Technically so good. From a young age he grew up with a cricket bat in his hand. Mentally so strong. To play for 24 years in just incredible. You got to have real love and passion for the game. He had the technique to destroy attacks, also has the patience to bat all day. Great package. If you are so great it is not one thing that stands out, it has to be greatness across the board. A complete batsman.

Brian Lara: Left-hander, very flamboyant, loved to play his shots. He was the one guy I could never tie down or get him to change his game. Even Sachin, I felt, if I bowled well to him, he would wait for the bad ball. Brian did not want to wait for the bad ball; he just wanted to be up there playing his shots. Sometimes I could use that against him to get him out, bowl fuller and wider, he would slash at it and there was a good chance of him getting caught in the slips. The other side of it was he has scored some big hundreds, some big double hundreds against Australia. He is that type of player who is always looking to dominate, played the ball late. You never knew what you were going to get. Some days, he would be a little bit all over the place, little bit of a mess. Other days, he was so focussed. If you wanted to pay to come and watch a batsman, it would be Brian. He was an entertainer, played all the shots, his footwork was good. He had a very high back-lift, which a lot of batsmen didn’t have, but that’s what allowed him to play the shots he did.

Rahul Dravid: Such a quality batsman, worked hard at his game. He was prepared to bat all day. He would set himself to score big hundreds and then go for a double. He had solid defence. Really had to work hard to get him out. Once he got in, had the concentration to bat on and on. If there was one person who you wanted to bat for your life, it would be Dravid. He was technically so good, mentally so switched on. I don’t think he suffered from any weaknesses really. When I tested him on and around the off-stump with some movement and bounce he was up to the challenge. He did well. Maybe in the latter part of his career, he got out sometimes to the one that sneaked back through the gate but he deserves a lot of credit for what he has accomplished.

Ricky Ponting: I have played a lot of cricket with Rick. I always thought he would be the leading run-scorer in Test cricket when he retired but Sachin took that out of limits from anyone else. Again, very good technique from a young age. He was marked as future Australian captain. A very aggressive batsman, despite the responsibilities of captaincy. Played the short ball as well as any batsman I have played against. He took it on, backed himself. He could play the pull shot off the front foot or go right back for the stroke. He was so quick. You thought you had a chance because he played his shots but Ricky was so confident. So dominant, such good footwork. Was difficult for bowlers to settle down on a length against him. Then you also had other Australians like Adam Gilchrist, who could take the match away from you quickly. And Matthew Hayden, who was a different type of batsman again.

Steve Waugh: Stephen was a tougher, greedier batsman than most other guys. He would do the hard job, look ugly. He wouldn’t give his wicket away in pressure situations, made you work as hard as possible. His mental strength, that determination, was the key. There were times when he looked uncomfortable against the short ball but rarely got out to the delivery. He did not bother about how he appeared at the crease. That sort of thing did not weigh in his mind. He did what he has to do. Lots of courage.


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Printable version | Sep 20, 2021 11:43:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/mcgrath-picks-his-top-five-batsmen/article7342432.ece

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