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Retiring McGrath Has No Regrets

Australian fast bowler Glenn McGrath said there were no regrets or second thoughts about his decision to retire despite his triumphant performance at the World Cup. The lanky paceman ended his 14-year international career on an extraordinary high when he was officially named as the best player of the tournament after capturing 22 wickets at an average of 13.73. McGrath's amazing performances showed he still has plenty to offer in international cricket, but the 37-year-old said he was happy to bow out. "I haven't had much time to reflect after 14 years or so, but I've been so lucky to be involved in era of Australian cricket that is so strong," McGrath told reporters after the team arrived home on Thursday with the World Cup in their hands. "You look around at your team mates, and you think, 'Every one of these guys is big game player'. "Being around this group of guys has been sensational, and heading to a World Cup is always special anyway, but this being my last, I was just determined to enjoy and love every minute of it, and I did." McGrath announced his plans to retire during the recent Ashes series win against England but his fairytale finish was one of the few feelgood stories of a World Cup overshadowed by the murder of Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer. HUMBLE SURROUNDS Cricketers from all around the world have paid tribute to the man known affectionately as Pigeon after a career that began in the humble surrounds of the Australian outback. McGrath was not the quickest pace bowler the world has ever seen but he had a simple recipe for success: unerring accuracy, subtle movement off the seam and sharply rising bouncers only a man of 1.95m (6ft 5in) could generate. While most fast bowlers tried to intimidate their opponents with blistering speed, McGrath played with their minds, repeatedly pitching the ball on a length just outside the off bail, in the so-called "corridor of uncertainty". He often made top batsmen look like fools yet his simplistic approach to the game hid the fact he was one of the shrewdest pacemen Australia ever produced. He grew up in Narromine, a dusty outback town in western New South Wales, where few people gave him any hope of ever making a career out of cricket. When he finished school, he spent the next few years in a variety of jobs, including working as a carpenter, in a bank and at local farms harvesting cotton, before following his dreams to Sydney, spending 13 months living in a caravan before he broke into first-class cricket. McGrath went on to achieve virtually every honour in the game. He finished with 563 test wickets, a record for a fast bowler, and 381 one-day scalps and was just one of three men, along with his team mates Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist, to win three World Cups. ALL-TIME GREAT He struggled with injuries in the final few years of his career and took eight months off to care for his wife Jane but returned to spearhead Australia's victory in the Ashes and World Cup to enhance his reputation as one of the all-time greats. "The wonderful Glenn McGrath ... really has been an ornament to Australian cricket for many years," the Australian Prime Minister John Howard said at a breakfast welcoming the team home. "He is the greatest fast bowler of his generation and many would say he ranks with the very greatest that the game has seen. "You'd have to rank him with (Dennis) Lillee and (Ray) Lindwall as the three great fast bowlers this country's produced. He's been terrific." © Reuters 2007
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