Glenn McGrath is viewed as one of the best bowlers to have ever played the sport and even after retiring, the former Australian pacer continues to impart knowledge to budding fast bowlers in India. McGrath is the Director of MRF Pace Foundation and is currently in the country to coach his wards. In a free-wheeling chat with NDTV over the phone, McGrath talked about the pace of Umran Malik, the form of Virat Kohli, and India’s upcoming tour of England, comprising one Test, three ODIs, and three T20Is.
During IPL 2022, there were calls for Virat Kohli to take a break.
McGrath believes that having gotten that break now, it will do Kohli a world of good as the batter knows his game inside out and knows what to do to get back to top form.
“Cricket is pretty much a confidence sport, Virat is pretty much a confidence player as well. When he is on song, he scores runs after runs and sometimes, it is not going well, it can be a tough place to be. He has got enough experience, knows himself, and knows his game. Having that break, will do him a world of good. I am keen to see how he comes back, we have the World Cup just around the corner and I think India will need the experienced players to help steady the ship,” McGrath told NDTV.
Talking about Umran Malik, McGrath said: “Yeah, bowling express pace is something which is quite unique. And it is very special. If you can combine that extreme pace with control and consistency, then you become a very dangerous bowler. It is just about getting that experience, once you get to the top, you have to work even harder. As long as his work ethic is good and he looks to improve, who knows where he can go.”
“There is still time for him (Umran playing Tests). You have to get out there and do the business in first-class cricket as well. When you are bowling express pace, everyone gets excited and fair enough, but yeah, to be around the team, is pretty special. I have not spent any time with him, so I do not know what he is like as a character and how he goes about things.
“I was lucky enough as I played just 6 games for New South Wales before getting a chance in a Test match. It comes down to attitude, if you are bowling at that pace, you need to look after yourself and you need to be fit. You need to be strong so that you can bowl day in and day out, yeah a lot of it is going to depend on him, his work ethic, and how he goes about things. If he can adapt to playing at the higher level and enjoy it, then yeah, looks like he can have a big career. But as long as they are managed properly and not raised to the top, I am sure he will do fine,” he added.
When asked whether Hardik Pandya should have a say on how much he should be utilised as a bowler, the 52-year-old said: “I think it is up to him. I think he has enough experience now, I reckon he would have a pretty good relationship with the captain and the coaches. He is experienced, he knows what he needs to do. He is a quality all-rounder, there is no doubt that. He is a powerful hitter as well. He can bowl the ball through at a pretty good pace, he knows what he needs to do. It is just about getting out back there, getting consistency and confidence in bowling, and going from there. He will have a fair say in what he is doing and how he is doing it.”
McGrath, who has 563 wickets in Tests, also spoke about the brand of cricket England are currently playing in Tests and why India will need to be at the top of their game to get the better of the ‘Three Lions’ in the UK.
“It is always tough when you go to another country and you play just that one practice game leading into the Test match. England have been playing some good cricket of late, with Ben Stokes as captain, they are playing a more aggressive form of the game combined with Brendon McCullum. They are going out there, backing themselves, they are trying to play good, positive cricket. So yeah, when they are playing well, they will be a tough team to beat so I think India will really have to be on their toes, they will have to be playing well to compete with England in England,” said McGrath.
Lastly, speaking about the new fast-bowling culture in India, McGrath said: “Yeah, I think every captain likes to have fast bowlers and express fast bowlers. So, I think Indians in the past were known for turning wickets, the pitches themselves were a little slow. I think it is a combination of a few things, yeah the pitches have quickened up a little bit. If you want to be the No.1 team in the world, you have to have a quality fast-bowling attack. They have realised that and they are developing that. The MRF pace foundation, the guys realised there a long time back, developing fast bowlers and bringing them through.”
“So, to see Indian bowling lineup at the moment, they are consistent, there are some good fast bowlers, some young bowlers coming through. It is in a very good state at the moment with the quality of quicks. I think they have realised you need fast bowlers, the pitches have improved for fast bowlers and I think a lot more people are focusing on fast bowlers. It just used to be spinners and batsmen in the past, it is good to see fast bowlers getting a go now. Very proud of them. To have 19 of our boys (bowlers from MRF Pace Foundation), present and past involved in the IPL, most of them doing very well, for me is what it’s all about. We are here to help the boys improve and know their game. To see them perform on the big stage of the IPL and to see them performing well, is something that we strive for. So yeah, really really proud,” he signed off.
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