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.

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballStriker in talks over £17m move from Manchester United
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
boksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
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

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor