Australian attrition reveals prescience of Hoggard's view

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The Independent Online

Hoggard's remarks were interpreted as meaning that Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie, 30, were over the hill. And when McGrath , 35, claimed nine wickets in the first Test at Lord's, a match which the Australians won with embarrassing ease, Hoggard's words were rammed back down his throat with glee.

The Yorkshire fast bowler was questioning whether an attack in which the three key men - Shane Warne being the third member of the Aussie armoury - were all over 30, could withstand the demands of five tough Tests in little more than seven weeks.

The way things have panned out Hoggard might justifiably now be regarded as having been prescient with his comments. Gillespie has been dropped after claiming just three wickets in the first three Tests. McGrath is out of this one through injury.

McGrath, the first Australian fast bowler to reach 100 Test caps, had already missed the second Test at Edgbaston after injuring an ankle while warming up before the start of the match.

Yesterday McGrath was forced to pull out of his second Test match of this series. This time he has an injury to his right elbow.

McGrath received intensive treatment from the Australian physiotherapist, Errol Alcott, but after the New South Welshman underwent a fitness test, in which he sent down a few deliveries to try the arm out shortly before the teams were announced, he pulled out of the match to be reduced to the role of drinks waiter for his team-mates.

Whether he will get a chance to add to his 513 Test wickets - the last 14 having been taken in the two Tests he has managed to play on this tour - remains to be seen.

At least McGrath would have been in a position to witness the bogus umpires who strolled confidently out to the middle, albeit from the stands at extra cover, just a minute or so before the official officials, Aleem Dar and Steve Bucknor, were due out.

The two as yet unnamed men certainly looked the part, in dark trousers, white shoes, broad-brimmed summery hats and white shirts.

They each took an end, one making a video replay sign, the other indicating a wide, then they removed the bails, momentarily replacing them with a can of Australian lager that each carried. The bails were replaced, said cans were opened for a celebratory swig, and with the dark-suited security forces converging on the middle they met in mid-pitch, treated themselves to a high five before turning and surrendering to officialdom.

They were arrested, charged with aggravated trespass and taken off to a police station to await a decision from the Crown Prosecution Service as to whether they case would be pursued through the courts.

It was not clear whether they were the same pair who attempted a similar stunt at Old Trafford in the previous Test a fortnight ago. On that occasion they only got as far as a gate leading out on to the playing area before security men stopped them.