Saturday, September 16, 2006

Of Pidge, Thommo and Thommo on Pidge

Watching a truly great player - especially a truly great pace bowler - in good form is something that can't be matched.

Along with Wasim Akram, Glenn McGrath has easily been the greatest fast bowler in the recent past. He has been out for a while, playing the good husband to Jane. But he's back. His comeback match wasn't as hot as, say, Sachin Tendulkar's comeback. But then players like him raise their game depending on the opposition. Chanderpaul might be in good form, but what's it worth bowling at full tilt to that frog-in-a-fruit-basket!

Put him in front of Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar, as is happening in front of my eyes right now, and then you'll know who we are talking about. And this is just 15 minutes after I have finished speaking to Jeff Thomson about McGrath. Can it ever get better than this?!

Thommo's of the opinion that McGrath has at least another five years of top class cricket left in him if he can take off from meaningless one-day tournaments and Test series against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe once in a way. Fair enough. That means till he is 40-41.

I will agree with him, because if there's one bowler I have seen who knows eactly what his body is capable of, it's McGrath. To some extent that's also true of Richard Hadlee and Akram. But not too many others. Certainly not my other favourite recent pacer - Allan Donald. And certainly not Shane Bond. And since he started getting slightly older, he's suddenly become more cunning, definitely shrewder, and that impeccable control over the corridor of uncertainty has suddenly become extra-impeccable if that were possible.

I love the man. And this trip will be memorable not because I saw Sachin Tendulkar come back after a long break and play one of his best one-day knocks ever, but because I got a chance to see a Glenn McGrath who has spent the last many months brooding over not being able to bowl and has come back stronger and better. And even more because I got to hang around with Thommo in a corner for around half an hour - no camera or mike to worry about - and talk about two of my favourite cricketers ever...McGrath and Shane Warne.

Totally unplugged. Totally unrigged. Totally beautiful.

If only Viv Richards was around to talk about the frog-in-a-fruit-basket...and then maybe Brian Lara for a bit.

PS: That's my second post in a day!!! Must be the goddamn rain!