Peter Roebuck: Old masters discover a new lease of life

At the end of an extraordinary day that had seen the Australians romp to a stunning victory, the elders of the side ran around the field like spring chickens. Against all the odds, Ricky Ponting's side had secured a great victory. So much for Dad's Army. Australia overwhelmed an opponent alarmed into inactivity. Although it was a magnificent team effort, the victory owed most to the side's ageing champions. Seldom have two masters raged as strongly against the dying of their light as did Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath against England in their second innings. They turned an apparently lost cause into a triumph.

Shane Warne's contribution counts amongst the mightiest of his career. Pounded by the batsmen and berated by the critics after a lacklustre showing in the first innings, he produced a stirring performance. A drawn match had been universally predicted. Only the sight of the Englishmen arriving with glum faces suggested otherwise. And the fact that Australia had a magician in its ranks.

Anyone seeking to convey the greatness of this fascinating operator need only show footage of this display. It was not merely the skill summoned throughout an unyielding stint. Certainly the craftsmanship shown was superb, the way the ball dipped and turned, the unexpected googly and most of all, the accuracy that caused almost every ball to land on the spot.

But it was not only about skill. Greatness is a state of mind. Warne had taken 1 for 167 in the first innings and had been exposed by a confident young batsman. A lesser man might have wilted. Not Warne. Instead, he wanted to make amends and convinced himself it could be done. Maybe he had seen his opponents walk into the ground with long faces. He knows that the scared sportsman is vulnerable. Now his arm was higher and he changed his line, aiming more often at middle stump, using the leg-side delivery sparingly. Astute fields were also set so that batsmen could not easily escape. And so the great competitor went to work. His first strike owed something to fortune. Bad luck stalks the timid. Next came the most crucial blow. Warne left the leg-side temptingly open and sent a ball behind Pietersen's legs. Accepting the bait, his recent tormentor swept and lost his off stump. Warne had nailed his man.

Meanwhile McGrath watched. Not so long ago he had been thrown the ball when the game was afoot. Now he did not try his arm till late afternoon. At last the ball was tossed to him. He ran in hard, bowled purposefully and took the last two scalps.

Then the old champions walked back to the pavilion and watched the batsmen knock off the runs. Finally they ran on to the field like excited youngsters. It had been a wonderful fightback, and the old warriors had led the way.

Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
Life and Style
Martha Stewart wrote an opinion column for Time magazine this week titled “Why I Love My Drone”
lifeLifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot... to take photos of her farm
Sport
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices