CHENNAI: When one hears the name Glenn McGrath, the first thing that comes to the mind is his famous fracas with Ramnaresh Sarwan. The Pigeon was just following his then- skipper Steve Waugh's art of 'mental disintegration'.
But, that’s not the legend's true persona. The once-fierce competitor is now a humble, dedicated coach.
McGrath, who took over from Dennis Lillee as the director of coaching at the MRF Pace Foundation in the city, is enjoying his new role and wants to contribute more to the game.
“It's wonderful. I have not made many changes in the approach, and we are continuing what Lillee did successfully all these years. I do not go for too much change in technical aspects, but I work more on mental aspects as the game has changed over the years,” said McGrath in a freewheeling chat with Express.
The Australian has been at the foundation as both player and coach. So, what is special about the academy that make fast bowlers around the world flock to Chennai when they find a glitch in their bowling?
“Well. It's the ambience here. The wickets, conditions, training, gymnasium, state-of-the-art video analysis, and specialised coaching make it easy for a bowler to work on his game with the confidence that he is in safe hands,” explained McGrath.
“When I am not there, M Senthilnathan, our chief coach, does a good job of keeping tabs on the guys. He was been a top-order batsman, and as a coach he is spot on. The time he spent with Lillee has come in handy,” he added.
Known for his nagging accuracy, McGrath is intent on sharing his work ethic with those who seek his academy's services.
“Basically, I share my international experience with the boys. I let them know what it takes to succeed at the highest level.”
With heavy bats, protective gear, and smaller grounds, fast bowling is no longer about pace alone, opined McGrath. “Yes, it is more about taking initiative. See how Ishant Sharma and his fellow pacers took the initiative and bowled aggressively on the final day to win the third Test against West Indies. I want the boys here to learn from that and understand that to be a successful bowler, one must learn to seize the initiative and make an impact.”
He also insisting that Varun Aaron is one of the most promising bowlers at the foundation. “Also the fact that India is using a good crop of seamers in their attack makes sense for what we are doing out here. It gives the boys here the confidence that if we do well, we too can get an opportunity to play for the country.”
The Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) will be held later this month, and McGrath welcomes the initiative of Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA). “It will certainly help the game develop in the districts and unearth talent,” he complimented.
“Perhaps the money!” quipped McGrath when it was pointed out that Matthew Hayden is the brand ambassador of the league, Michael Bevan a coach, and Brett Lee a mentor. He then offered a serious explanation for the same. “Australians are fierce competitors and have a professional work ethic. Plus, all of them have done well internationally and have vast experience. T20 requires a different set of skills, and Bevan and Lee will come in handy.”
The pace guru is not a shopaholic, and likes to spend time with his friends. “I do not go out shopping. Work, rest, and more work at the foundation keeps me relaxed. I spend time with friends out here. I like the food here too. I enjoy the masala dosas and chat items like bhelpuri and pav bhaaji and so on. I feel relaxed out here and consider the city my second home.”