Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath formed one of the lethal pairs in the history of Test cricket….
An old English proverb says – Great bowlers always hunt in pairs. Partnerships not only happens while batting, but also while putting in the hard yards. Over the years, cricket has observed some mind-boggling pair of bowlers, who have wreaked havoc together and have been a nightmare for batting line-ups across the globe.
The likes of Glenn McGrath-Shane Warne, Muttiah Muralitharan-Chaminda Vaas, Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh, Wasim Akram-Waqar Younis, Michael Holding- Malcolm Marshall, Dennis Lillee-Geoff Marsh, Shaun Pollock- Makhaya Ntini and many more have produced some exciting spells, which are now a part of cricketing folklore. From contemporary cricket Trent Boult- Tim Southee, Josh Hazlewood- Mitchell Starc James Anderson- Stuart Broad, Dale Steyn- Morne Morkel, Kuldeep Yadav-Yuzvendra Chahal (in shorter formats) have made up for some formidable bowling partnerships in the last few years.
Here we will talk about the astounding pair of Warne and McGrath, a splendid combination of an immaculate fast bowler and a wily leg-spinner, who was probably the greatest leg-spinner to have embraced the game. Some bowlers find the rhythm together, they know the rare art of exposing batting line-ups. Warner and McGrath were one such pair. Together, they have scalped 980 wickets in 197 innings. They single-handedly won games for Australia throughout their scintillating careers.
Ashes to Ashes,
Dust to dust,
If McGrath can’t get you,
Warne relied on his art and plethora of deceits while McGrath banked upon accuracy, patience and consistency. Their partnership worked wonders for Australia and gelled well as a unit. While McGrath wore batsmen down with his nagging consistency and patience, Warne, the magician that he has often conjured wickets out of thin air.
Warner and McGrath were outstanding in the Ashes, they have produced some of the most memorable moments in the Ashes. During their regime, Australia never lost an Ashes Test at home. The duo looked in different rhythm in the Ashes and often saved their best for the high-voltage rivalry. Warne is the highest wicket-taker in the Ashes with 195 scalps in his basket while McGrath sits on the second spot with 157 wickets.
Apart from the impressive numbers, they also made a lot of big names their bunnies. In the Ashes, they dominated some of the key English batsmen. For instance, Andrew Strauss fell prey to Warne’s persistence on eight occasions, while the southpaw also became his 700th Test scalp during the Boxing Day Test in 2006.
English giant Michael Atherton struggled against both Warne and McGrath. Atherton averaged just seven against the wily leg-spin of Warner while McGrath got the better of him on 19 occasions in 17 Tests. Talking about average, Naseer Hussain had a terrible record of just nine against McGrath while Alec Stewart was dismissed by the lanky bowler ten times. These players were the pillars of strength in English batting line-up and these numbers suggest how well the combo of Warne and McGrath dominated them. West Indies legend Brian Lara was also McGrath’s bunny.
Talking about a memorable victory, the most prominent Test that springs to mind is that of Adelaide in 2006. A Test, which was invariably heading towards a draw saw some new life being infused on the fifth day. England piled 551 in the first innings, where McGrath remained wicketless while Warne had just one scalp to his name. Australia fought fire with fire and a draw looked imminent on this track.
At the end of Day 4, England were well placed at 59 for 1. On Day 5, Warne spun a series of web around the English batsmen to pick four wickets and was equally supported by other bowlers. McGrath cleaned the tail to dismantle England for 129 and gave Australia an outside chance to win. Warne’s numbers may not look that big, but he got the job done and injected momentum in a rather dull game.
As of now, their record looks very difficult to be breached. The only pair that came close to them was that of Vaas and Muralitharan (879 wickets). They have been an invincible pair and their performances will be cherished forever. McGrath also formed a fearsome new ball pair with Jason Gillespie, but his partnership with Warne was just extraordinary.
On a whole, Warne played 145 Tests, picking 708 wickets along with 37 fifers and 10 ten-wicket hauls. McGrath, on the other hand, featured in 124 tests, picking 63 wickets. He also had 29 fifers and three 10-wickets haul.