Cricket: History man's happy returns
Stephen Brenkley sees a record-breaker make the most of his chance for greatness
As McGrath took his place in history so, too, did England. It was their lowest total against Australia since 1948, when they succumbed for 52 on a sticky pitch at The Oval, and their lowest on this hallowed turf since 1888, when they tumbled to 53 and 62. No doubt Queen Victoria was not amused.
A case could be made that McGrath was slightly flattered by such stupendous figures and that England made a seaming wicket of some uneven bounce look worse than it was, but perhaps they both deserved what they got. McGrath used what was at his disposal perfectly both on Friday morning and again yesterday. He pitched it up at pace and with rhythm. Both bowler and ball were in the zone. Thus were England, new England, ensnared. Their mistrust was almost visible and their supporters can but hope that all the confidence developed over the past month was not frittered away, at headquarters of all places.
They should find some solace in the thought that McGrath, splendid bowler though he is, will surely never again find so much conspiring in his favour at once. This performance still ranks behind the efforts of two compatriots against England - Arthur Mailey took 9 for 121 in 1920-21 and Frank Laver returned 8 for 31 in 1909. At Lord's, Ian Botham still holds the record for the best innings analysis, 8 for 34 against Pakistan in 1978. But McGrath, 27, is now supreme among Australians at the most famous ground in the world, improving on Bob Massie's 8 for 53 a quarter of a century ago.
Massie , who took 16 wickets in the match, said: "It's been 25 years and in a way its a relief one half of the record has gone. I would love to see him get nine in the second innings because it would help Australia."
Massie added that McGrath was already a fantastic bowler and was on the verge of being a great one: "He has developed in the past year and a half from being an up-and-down sort of bowler with potential to one who has the lot. He can use reverse swing, seam it and bowl the percentages. I'm sure he will just get better and better."
There were mutterings - there always are when great deeds supersede previous great deeds - that so many good bowlers have been to Lord's down the years and not done what McGrath had done that it hardly seemed just. But Massie rightly emphasised that helpful conditions had to be used properly.
It would not be in order to let the occasion pass without mentioning Paul Reiffel. Barely off the plane in bowling terms, after being called up as a replacement, he operated at the other end to McGrath and also made the batsmen play. His movement instilled doubts and that, at any level, remains a batsman's greatest enemy.
Whether or not England save this match, they will know now they are in a contest. They must hope that the backing they have garnered this summer does not dissipate. One lousy innings following the splendid effort at Edgbaston does not make a bad team.
But it does bring the return of the old sores about the inability to string together two good performances against high-class opposition and the fallibility of a batting line-up, which is supposedly a good unit.
But they were taking on history here and better England sides than this one have been undone by the Australians at Lord's. The most oft-quoted fact of the week is that England have won here only once this century against the old enemy, in 1934. History and Glenn McGrath were a potent combination indeed.
Latest in Sport
Cristiano Ronaldo could return against Manchester United - but it won't be like previous reunions
Calum Chambers joins Arsenal: New £16m signing put through Arsenal initiation as he sings The Kooks in front of team-mates
Manchester United transfer news: Mats Hummels, Daley Blind and Thomas Vermaelen on radar as Louis van Gaal reveals he still wants to sign defender
Seydou Keita refuses Pepe handshake before throwing water bottle prior to Roma vs Real Madrid match
New Liverpool signing Dejan Lovren forced to train with the under-21s after US visa mix-up
- 2 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 3 The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
- 4 Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire
- 5 'Hello mum, this is going to be hard for you to read ...'
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
Land for gas: Merkel and Putin discussed secret deal could end Ukraine crisis
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Richard Dawkins tweets: 'Date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse'
£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: MS Dynamics NAV...
£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: The company ...
£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: **MS Dynamics N...
competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading organisation...