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.

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
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

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine