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Am ready to bowl at my best

By Glenn McGrath
February 07, 2003 00:11 IST
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Glenn McGrath

On New Year's Day, Australia were being considered pretty much unbeatable during this World Cup. A month later, there are whispers that Australia are fallible and that we may not be able to make it two-in-a-row at South Africa. We did not take the "unbeatable" tag too seriously and we will not take the doubts over our capabilities, which stem from a few injury problems, seriously either.

The three main bowlers for Australia -- Shane Warne, Jason Gillespie and I -- have all had injuries over the last month or so. But does this blunt the team's pace attack and hinder our quest for the World Cup? I don't think so.

Shane WarneI would have to admit that my preparation for the World Cup has not been ideal. As far as pace bowlers go, I have been relatively injury-free right through my career. Therefore, I was a little worried when my back was causing me discomfort with the World Cup looming large. However, I'm relieved to know that I won't be carrying the injury into the World Cup, where we have a couple of crucial games at the start itself.

On the more positive side, the break I was forced to take was almost therapeutic for me, since it gave me time away from the game after a very strenuous season. It has also helped me focus on my goals at the World Cup, which is being played in a country where I've done reasonably well.

Since we toured here only a year ago, I know the conditions and the wickets pretty well. Moreover, these a are conditions that are very similar to the ones back home, so there is no question of making any significant adjustments in your training or approach to the tournament. To play the World Cup, which comes around only once in four years is motivation enough, and while you're representing your country in one-dayers and Tests year in and year out, this is the biggest prize the sport has to offer. Add to that the quality of players that comprise the Australian side. The caliber of my teammates helps me feel confident that we will do very, very well this time as well.

The tournament also spurs me on since I get to bowl against most of the best batsmen in the game in a very short span of time. I will be renewing an old rivalry with Sachin Tendulkar pretty early on in the tournament. Reports from New Zealand suggest that like me, he too was having a few injury problems during his tour there. He must also be smarting at his inability to get a big score in any of the three games he has played. I'm sure he will be looking to redeem himself in the World Cup, and considering his record against Australia in the past, bowling to him will be a challenge.

Another positive side to these injuries is the experienced guys had a bit of a rest before the World Cup, while the guys on the bench have got a feel of the middle just before the tournament. For instance, Shane Watson bowled really well at the death in the few VB Series games that he played. Brad Hogg and Jimmy Maher have also got a few chances to play, thanks to the injury to Andy Bichel and the non-availability of Darren Lehmann.

The only real worry is Shane Warne, who might miss the first couple of games in order to rest himself. Warney has been playing since the beginning of January, but he might still need some time before being able to bowl at the highest level. Dizzy [Jason Gillespie] and I should, on the other hand, be fully fit in time for our first game and ready to go. I can't wait to get in the middle, because I want to prove to the world once and for all that I am fit now, and fully ready to bowl at my best.

Injuries are never desirable things, but they are an occupation hazard in the career of a bowler. It's a little unfortunate that all three of us were felled at the same time. But we are relieved that these setbacks happened more than a month before the World Cup, so we had ample time to recover.


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Glenn McGrath