McGrath questions Australia's game plan

Former Oz pacer praises India for dominating at home
Glenn McGrath (centre) interacts with trainees of the MRF Pace Foundation on Monday
Glenn McGrath (centre) interacts with trainees of the MRF Pace Foundation on Monday

CHENNAI: The legendary Glenn McGrath questioned Australia’s strategy in the first two Tests of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, in which the touring team went down meekly to be behind 0-2. McGrath, the director of coaching at the MRF Pace Foundation here, also sang the praises of India, saying that Australia avoiding a clean sweep in the four-match series would be a job well done for the visitor.


On Australia’s poor show in the first two Tests against India

The pitches (balls) have been turning. The Australian team expects it when it comes here. In the first Test (in Nagpur), they (batters) tried to be a little bit defensive. In the second Test (in New Delhi), they tried to be a bit more aggressive... too aggressive probably. It (team) has not been able to come and clean up the tail.

On whether the visiting batters lack the application to play spin well

They have not settled on a game plan on how to play spin in India. That was very obvious in the first two Tests. They have been really disappointing with the way they have played and the way both Test matches ended. It is one thing to say that Australia does not have a good game plan or batting plan, but you have to give credit to the India bowlers. They have bowled exceptionally well in conditions they know really well.

On what is key for batters to succeed in India

You have got to build an innings on defence. You have to have a good solid defence. The batters need to put a lot of value on their wicket. And then, you look at ways to score so that you can put the pressure back on the bowlers. The batters have to do the basics very well, especially in conditions here in India.

On how Australia can turn things around

The next Test match (in Indore) will be a true test of where it (the team) is at. It has to find the right balance... come up with a game plan where the batters put a high price on their wicket. Defend... when there is a ball to be hit, play a shot too. Australia has a long way to go. If it (scoreline) is not 4-0 when it leaves the shores, it would have done well. It has got a big job in front of it. Unfortunately, it has lost its captain (Pat Cummins). David Warner is not there as well. It is an opportunity for the young players to do well.

On whether stand-in skipper Steve Smith can lead from the front in the third Test

I am sure that he has the mental toughness. He knows his game very well, has played plenty of Tests and got an average of 60+ (60.12). He is a quality player. I think that Australia relies too much on Smith and Marnus Labuschagne. The [rest of the] batters have to stand up.

On India’s dominant performances so far in the series

[Axar] Patel, [Ravindra] Jadeja and [Ravichandran] Ashwin, they are the ones causing the problem. You have to give credit to the Indian players as well. The guys we mentioned, they know how to play spin on these pitches. They are bowlers as well, so they know what the opposition is trying to do. Rohit Sharma has done an excellent job captaining India. One team is playing quite well and the other not so well.

On the Australia women’s team’s recent T20 World Cup triumph

It was an incredible effort. It is a quality team and has been a quality team for a long time. Tournament after tournament and year after year, it is producing the players and quality. I am very proud of it and I am very impressed. It just keeps that juggernaut going.

MRF Pace Foundation’s part in Murphy’s success

Off-spinner Todd Murphy, who was handed his Australia debut in the first Test against India in Nagpur, had an enriching experience at the MRF Pace Foundation last August after travelling to Chennai as a member of Cricket Australia’s development team. Murphy, owner of 10 Test wickets in two matches, feasted on the spin-friendly pitches at the Pachaiyappas College Ground when the CA development team played practice matches against MRF Pace Foundation’s side. Meanwhile, MRF Pace Foundation will conduct trails in two separate batches one on March 1, 2 and 3 and the other on March 9, 10 and 11 – for Under-25 players who have represented their state in the Ranji Trophy.

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