Cricket: McCague arrives with bang

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The Independent Online
THE VERDICT of the Trent Bridge crowd on the eligibility of Martin McCague was succinct: 'He may not be English but by Christ he's quick and that'll do for us.'

After all the fuss over Kent's Irish- Australian it would not have been surprising were his first ball for his adopted country an anti-climax. It was not, as it thudded into Michael Slater's pads, all watching were aware that here was a genuine fast bowler and what a difference it made to the atmosphere, for the first time since the series opened English fans had something to shout about.

So did the England manager Keith Fletcher, who said he had seen no one bowl quicker for England since Bob Willis. Fletcher added: 'He did superbly for a first day in Test cricket, he looks a good bowler, a man for the big occasion.'

McCague went on to take England's first classic fast bowler's dismissals - caught behind edging - in the series, quite an indictment of their previous bowling.

McCague, who admits that his childhood idol was Dennis Lillee, says he is very happy in England, and all the evidence suggests he is.

'The fact that I can make a living here was obviously a big factor (in the decision to declare himself English),' he added. 'But at the end of the day I'm just an aggressive cricketer. Once I get the ball in my hand in the middle it does not matter who is at the other end. I'm running in doing my hardest to get him. I love it, I love bowling fast.'

McCague had earlier been given a lively welcome when he batted, Merv Hughes letting him have a few short balls and shorter words. But Hughes, who had McCague caught behind, denied he had picked out McCague for special treatment. 'He's just another English player,' he said.

Hughes added of McCague: 'Good luck to him. He's bowled very well, everyone has the utmost respect for him.'

Hughes dismissed allegations that he had incited spectators with a gesture. 'It will be a sad day when you can't have a bit of fun with the crowd,' he said.