Former Australian fast bowler Glenn McGrath’s bonhomie with India has only grown stronger after his retirement from international cricket in 2007. Since taking over as director of the MRF Pace Foundation in Chennai back in 2012, the Aussie legend has been a regular visitor to these shores. Back in the city for his latest coaching stint, the 48-year-old spoke about India’s upcoming Test series against England, how skipper Virat Kohli will fare in English conditions, the Australian ball-tampering scandal and more.
India will be playing a gruelling five-match Test series in England after the T20 and ODI series starting in July. Do you think they will be able to successfully adapt to the longer format?
A lot of it depends on the preparation time they have leading up to the Tests. You have got to adapt a lot quicker these days. Well, most guys have played in England before. Experience plays a big part in being able to adjust and adapt quicker. They have to rely on experience to take them through in England.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah have been in good form in the last few months. Will they hold the key for India in English conditions?
Yes, I think Bhuvi and Bumrah will hold the key. Both of them have got pretty good control. That’s what you need in England. The Duke ball has got a pronounced seam. If you get the ball in the right areas consistently, it will do a little bit throughout and they will do well.
Bumrah did very well in his debut Test series in South Africa earlier this year. Does he have to do anything different in English conditions to replicate his success?
I expect Bumrah to do well in England too simply because of the way he bowls. He has got a unique action, but he bowls lengths that are challenging for the batsmen. He will enjoy bowling with the Duke ball. I actually think all the Indian pacers will have success in England. It’s just a question of the batsmen getting enough runs.
Kohli versus James Anderson is expected to be the defining battle during the Test series. Kohli struggled last time around, averaging just 13.40 in five Tests. How do you see that contest shaping up?
Obviously, Kohli is a more experienced player this time around. There’s no doubt that he’s a quality batsman, but English conditions are pretty tough. When you have got a bowler like James Anderson who knows the conditions so well, it’s going to be a lot of hard work for Kohli. He has to be prepared to work hard. He can’t just go out and play his game and hit through the line. He has to be able to adapt. I’m looking forward to the battle.
In relation to the ball-tampering episode, the Australian team of the 2000s received a lot of criticism, with people saying that this culture emanated from there. What are your thoughts having been a part of that side?
I disagree with that completely. It was just a way that other teams and media used to have a go at the Australian team because they couldn’t have a go at us for playing badly or anything else. It always annoyed me. I have spoken to captains from other teams of that era, and they never felt that Australians were the worst sledgers.