Each time Glenn McGrath ran into to bowl, his heart beat for Australia. The baggy green, an immense source of pride, was his driving force.
Under the circumstances, it was hardly surprising that the legendary Aussie pace predator was gutted when the Tampergate at Cape Town shook the cricketing world and led to an year’s suspension for Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft.
Here, on yet another visit to the MRF Pace Foundation, McGrath said, “To think that you could get away with something like that was naïve. It was the lowest point for Australian cricket, very disappointing.”
At the same time, McGrath felt Steve Smith also paid a price for admitting his guilt in the post-day press conference. “If they did what the other teams did, send in the physio to the presser in situations like this, things might not have become so big.”
McGrath believed Smith would emerge from the torrid phase a better cricketer and a person. “The punishment was severe. Things might be a little more difficult for Warner, but he too should come through.”
Former team-mate, the feisty Justin Langer, was the right man to coach Australia, he said. “Respect and discipline are two key words for Langer.”
On what could curb the menace of ball-tampering, McGrath replied, “The umpires, the match referee and technology have a big role but eventually it boils down to the cricketers. Also, a line has been drawn in the sand. Someone who does it now will be aware of what could await him.”
McGrath opined the media blew the Aussie sledging out of proportion. “We try to make it as hard as possible for the opposition, with our cricket and body language. As long as things do not get personal, it is all right.”
About the teams he played with, McGrath said “We were not the worst sledgers and it was not win at all costs for us. It was to back ourselves to win from any situation and in any condition. I don’t understand this ‘crossing the line’ thing.”
He added, “We play hard but fair, that’s the Aussie way. In Cape Town, the fair aspect was missing.”
Asked about India’s upcoming campaign in England, McGrath said much of the bowling hopes depended on Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah. “The Duke ball feels smaller, has a good seam and if you land the ball in the right areas, it will do things for you.”
Lauding the recently-retired A.B. de Villiers, McGrath said, “He had more talent in his little finger than I had in my whole body.”