Former Australia fast bowler Glenn McGrath’s battles with Sachin Tendulkar are the stuff of legends and everytime the two cricketers came face to face in a cricket field, a fierce contest used to be on the cards. McGrath dismissed Tendulkar 13 times in international cricket – 6 times in Tests and on seven occasions on ODIs, but two dismissals in particular never went down well with the former India batsman.
The incidents McGrath is referring to is his dismissal of Tendulkar in the final of the 2003 World Cup and the LBW in a Test match in Adelaide. During the 1999 Border-Gavaskar Test series, McGrath recalls Tendulkar being furious at being given out leg before wicket. The batsman ducked and the ball hit him on his shoulder, and while the ball clearly looked to be heading over the stumps, former umpire Daryl Harper raised his finger leaving Tendulkar gutted.
“Sachin was batting and I think he had still not scored many runs or was still on zero, having just come in. I bowled him a bouncer and Sachin is not the tallest guy going around,” McGrath said.
“The bouncer will generally bounce and clear him quite easily, but that day when it bounced, it kept low and he ducked it and it hit him on his shoulder. And because he is not very tall, when he ducked it… from where I could see, I could see the bails over the top and it was hitting the middle stumps. So, I appealed and the umpire gave him out and he was not happy. So he walks off. Is it LBW? Probably, it should have been SBW or Shoulder Before Wicket,” McGrath said.
As for the 2003 World Cup final, it isn’t the fondest of memories for an Indian cricket fan. Tendulkar ruled the tournament scoring 673 runs, which is still a record for the most runs scored in a single edition of the World Cup. Heading into the final, Tendulkar had struck six half-centuries and a hundred, but after getting off the mark with a pull, Tendulkar mistimed the next ball in the air for McGrath to take a simple catch.
“I had some great battles with Sachin. I spend a lot of time in India now for coaching etc and that’s like a second home for me. I have a lot of friends there but people there tell me we have still not forgiven you for getting Sachin out in 2003 World Cup final,” he said.
“It was a big match and Sachin opened the innings in Johannesburg, South Africa. Almost 90 per cent, or probably 95 per cent crowd were supporting India, because South Africans either support South Africa or whoever is playing against Australia. Sachin came for batting and the first three balls, I kept pretty tight and he didn’t score any runs. The fourth ball, he went for a pull shot, hit me over to mid-off for four runs.
“The crowd was cheering and I’m sure people watching the match India must have been pretty happy too. The next ball was a very similar delivery, just bounced a little more, he went to play that pull shot again but he hit it straight up in the air and it came straight to my hands for a comfortable caught and bowled. I was pretty happy with that, but obviously Indian fans were not happy with that.”
McGrath also recalled Tendulkar’s assault on him during the ICC Champions Trophy match in Nairobi in the year 2000, where the batsman never allowed him to settled and smashed the fast bowler for three sixes and two boundaries early into the innings. Tendulkar’s rapid 38 gave India the early impetus, and once the flurry of boundaries started coming, McGrath remembers to have heard a bit of a chirping from Tendulkar.
“I bowled to him, he pulled it and it went straight up in the air. I thought I had got him out and the wicketkeeper would get an easy catch. But there was a breeze there and the ball kept drifting further and further away from the wicketkeeper and then I thought the third-man is going to take it who was ready to catch it and then he started going back and back and the ball finally fell out of the fence for a six,” he said.
“I was not very impressed and then I could hear someone saying a few words to me and I turned around and it was Sachin sledging me. That was very unusual and had not happened before.”