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Honours Board Legend: McGrath

Glenn McGrath takes his 500th Test wicket at Lord's
Glenn McGrath takes his 500th Test wicket at Lord's

Glenn McGrath, perhaps the finest fast bowler to play the game, returned to one of his happiest hunting grounds during the recent England v Australia Test, and talked to about his Test successes at the Home of Cricket.

McGrath's record at the Lord's is quite simply superb. In three Test matches he took 26 wickets at an average of 11.50, including three five-wicket hauls.

1997 - 8/38

One of the most successful exponents of the Lord's slope, McGrath's 8/38 on his first Test at the ground during the 1997 Ashes series is among the finest spells of bowling ever witnessed by a crowd at the Home of Cricket.

This ground was tailor made for my style

Bowling a slightly fuller length than in the first Test at Edgbaston - where McGrath admitted the Australians had got it wrong as England wrapped up nine wicket win - the then 27-year-old single-handedly dismantled England's top order on Friday evening and Saturday morning after the first day-and-a-half succumbed to the English weather.

Mike Atherton, Mark Butcher, Alec Stewart and co. had no answer to McGrath, who, at the first bite of the cherry, had his name up on the famous Lord's Honours Board.

"This ground was tailor made for my style of bowling," the New South Wales man told Lord's TV.

"If I could pick this wicket up and put it in my pocket and take it anywhere in the world, then happy days."

McGrath's 8/38 remains the best figures in an innings by any visiting bowler at the Ground.

This pitch was tailor made for my style

2001 - 5/54

Four years later McGrath was at it once again as Australia, this time coming off the back of a comprehensive innings and 118 runs win at Edgbaston, swept England aside by eight wickets at Lord's.

Winning the toss, Steve Waugh inserted Atherton's side and before long - after an initial spell of rain - McGrath had England in disarray as they crumbled to 187 all out in their first innings.  

Wisden recalled: "England withered in the face of a devastating McGrath onslaught.

"Immediately finding an exacting length. he took three for one in 20 pitch-perfect deliveries, starting with [Alec] Stewart and ending with [Craig] White, both for nought."

It was in that series that McGrath and his fellow Aussie quicks - Damien Fleming, Michael Kasprowicz and Jason Gillespie - who dubbed themselves as the 'fast bowling cartel', started the tradition of raising the ball to the crowd after taking five wickets.

"We got sick and tired of these batsman," McGrath joked.

"They get fifty runs, they raise their bat. They get a hundred, they raise their bat. The poor old bowler had nothing!

"So we decided, from now on whenever a bowler gets five, we pick up the ball and raise it to the crowd.

"We tried to start a little tradition there."

2005 - 5/53

In 2005 McGrath suffered his first, and only, taste of defeat in an Ashes series but Lord's was once again a happy hunting ground.

It was a highly anticipated series - which England eventually won 2-1 - but the Lord's Test witnessed another stellar display from McGrath as he tore through England in their first innings.

Having been bowled out for 190 before tea on day one, Australia looked in real trouble. But McGrath, as usual, had other ideas as he bowled a spell from the Pavilion that evening which "swung the match", as Wisden remembers, for Ricky Ponting's side who went on to win by 239 runs.

There was an extra special moment for McGrath when Marcus Trescothick became his 500th Test victim at the start of yet another five-wicket haul at the Ground. Andrew Strauss, Michael Vaughan, Ian Bell and Andrew Flintoff all perished in quick succession afterwards.

Before they knew it England had been blown away by another spell of lethal bowling: five for two in just 31 deliveries.

"England came hard at us," McGrath remembered.

"They knocked us over for not a big total."

"I took my five hundredth wicket and then picked up five wickets in a matter of a few overs and the the tide had turned.

"My father was sitting in the crowd and he loved the interaction between English crowd and the Australian crowd.

"It was an incredible day."

A photo of Glenn McGrath, Steve Waugh and Shane Warne from the 2001 Tour is currently on display in the MCC Museum.

Glenn McGrath's portrait is currently hanging in the Old Library in the Lord's Pavilion. It was painted by Justin Mortimer in 2010 as part of the Lord's Portrait Project.

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