McGrath makes surprise return

Glenn McGrath made a surprise comeback for Thursday's third Ashes cricket test against England.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:53 IST
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Glenn McGrath made a surprise comeback for Thursday's third Ashes cricket test against England, opening the bowling at Old Trafford just a couple of days after getting off crutches. McGrath was man of the match with nine wickets in Australia's series-opening 239-run win at Lord's last month, where he broke the 500-wicket barrier and improved his test career haul to 508. But he missed last week's second test after damaging right ankle ligaments in training about an hour before play started. That was one week ago. Frustrating comeback McGrath had a frustrating comeback Thursday, with wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist missing two chances off his bowling and the 35-year-old paceman missing a return catch himself. England captain Michael Vaughan, who contributed 166 to his nation's total of 341 for five, said the mere presence of McGrath was daunting for batsmen - despite his return of 0-76. "McGrath's a quality performer. His first few overs proved that," Vaughan said. "He put us under a lot of pressure with his variation. I don't think there's any stage his ankle affected him." Reduced pace McGrath needed crutches until Sunday and was still limping heavily on Monday. He bowled at about 80 per cent pace in a practice session Wednesday and passed a fitness test immediately before the match. He was not expected back until at least the fourth test starting Aug. 25 at Nottingham. "I'd never write Glenn McGrath off for anything," said Shane Warne, the only other Australian to take more than 500 test wickets. "I've learned that over a long time. "To have the best fast bowler in the world back in your side is always going to help. Having that calming influence with the new ball - it's exciting to have him back in the side." Warne claims 600th scalp Warne took his 600th wicket when he had Marcus Trescothick caught behind in his fifth over. Longtime teammate McGrath was right there to congratulate him. "It was lovely to be there when he got his 500th at Lord's, and it was nice to have Glenn there when I got my 600th - I'm sure he'll join the club pretty soon too," said Warne. Australia was so concerned about its bowling stocks earlier this week that Stuart Clark was drafted into the squad to cover for McGrath and Brett Lee, who spent two nights in hospital with an infected knee. Lee was passed fit Wednesday after a bowling session at Old Trafford. (AP)