Anderson could hold key to Ashes, says McGrath

Anderson, 37 on Tuesday, has been battling to overcome a calf injury. (AFP)
Updated 29 July 2019

Anderson could hold key to Ashes, says McGrath

  • “For a fast bowler to beat whatever record he sets, they are going to have to play 150 Tests-plus.”

LONDON: Australia great Glenn McGrath believes the form of England spearhead James Anderson could determine the course of the Ashes.
Australia hold the urn but head into Thursday’s opening Test at Edgbaston looking for their first series win in England since 2001.
Anderson, 37 on Tuesday, has been battling to overcome a calf injury but McGrath believes he could have a huge impact on the five-Test series if he stays fit.
“On home soil with the Dukes ball, he’s the best in the world bowling in those conditions,” McGrath told the Sun in an interview.
“He is a big player and if he has a big series for England, Australia will find it tough. If Australia bat well and can get on top of him, that’ll make a massive impact on their chances.”
The 49-year-old McGrath, working with online trading broker ThinkMarkets to encourage more young people to get into sport, added: “But Jimmy is on his way to 600 Test wickets, which is absolutely incredible.”
Anderson is now just 25 wickets shy of becoming the first fast bowler to take 600 in Tests, having surpassed former paceman McGrath’s haul of 563 against India last September.
“Jimmy’s got the record now and it won’t be beaten,” said McGrath. “For a fast bowler to beat whatever record he sets, they are going to have to play 150 Tests-plus.”
This season’s Ashes is being played with last year’s Dukes ball, which has a bigger seam than the one now in use for the 2019 English domestic season.
While that should benefit both Anderson and new-ball partner Stuart Broad, six-time Ashes winner McGrath thinks the 2018 Dukes will aid Australia’s attack as well.
“Pat Cummins will bowl really well with it and if Mitchell Starc is swinging that new ball 150 kilometers (93 miles) per-hour-plus and bowling attacking lengths, he’s a handful for anyone,” he said.
“It’s going to be whether our batsmen have learned and adjusted from last time they were here, when they just went too hard at the ball.”
Australia have won just three of their past 19 Tests in England including the match at Edgbaston in 2005, when McGrath was ruled out on the morning of the match after injuring his ankle treading on a stray ball during fielding practice.
While the former paceman refused to give one of his trademark Australia whitewash forecasts, he said Tim Paine’s men could retain the Ashes.
“Teams around the world are becoming stronger at home and worse away. That is a massive concern,” he said.
“But having been here for the World Cup, a lot of Australia’s players have been able to adapt and adjust to conditions, to play on the pitches and get a little bit of a feel for everything.
“We have got the players to do it. But they are going to have to be on the top of their game if they are going to compete with England in their own conditions.”


Diriyah Tennis Cup serves up top-class fare

Updated 13 December 2019

Diriyah Tennis Cup serves up top-class fare

  • Day one of the three-day tournament saw Fognini, Monfils, Medvedev and Goffin through to the semi-finals

RIYADH: A new chapter was written today in Saudi Arabia’s sporting history as the first international tennis matches took place as part of the epic month of Diriyah Season.

The Diriyah Tennis Cup presented by Saudi Aramco will certainly go down in history as eight of the world’s best tennis stars met in the Diriyah Arena for the first-ever international tournament played in the Kingdom. 

The event also goes down in tennis history as not only the first in Saudi Arabia, but also one of the first to use Hawk-Eye Live technology. Replacing the need for line judges and providing more accuracy, Hawk-Eye Live sends visual and audio cues to the chair umpire and off-court monitors within a tenth of a second of a ball bouncing, to show faults and out of bounds shots without relying on the naked eye.

The first day as part of a three-day tournament saw all eight players in action in the opening matches. First up on court was Italian and world number 12 Fabio Fognini taking on American John Isner world number 19 and holder of the third fastest serve of all time in Men’s Tennis. Although both players will be written into the Kingdom’s history books, it was Fognini who was the record breaker as he delivered the first international serve and match win ever recorded, 7-6 6-4. 

Speaking after his win, Fabio Fognini said: “I won the first game of the competition, it’s nice. It’s something I will remember for sure and the people will remember as it is the first year we play here. I know they want to do something more [grassroots tennis], especially to improve tennis in this country so I’m happy.”

Commenting after the historic match, John Isner also added: “Very unique to be here and be part of this. I never thought I’d be here playing in Saudi Arabia. Very grateful and happy to be here. The ball kids did great tonight, fantastic job.”

Second up on the Diriyah Arena court was Swiss Stan Wawrinka, the world’s number 16, against Frenchman Gael Monfils the world’s number 10. Monfils took the win in straight sets 6-3 6-3. Monfils rallied the crowd by encouraging them to cheer and danced after some of his winning shots.

“So far it’s great. The offering they have here for us to perform is incredible. The court is one of the best…it’s quite nice. The people are very nice. I feel very good.” said Monfils.

Daniil Medvedev of Russia and Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany met in the third match of the evening. Medvedev made light work of Struff to take the win 6-3 6-1 and advance to the semi-finals.

Speaking after his win, Medvedev commented: “Was a great match. It’s never easy like this, after the end of the season, holidays and in the middle of pre-season to know how you are playing at this moment – are you strong or not? Today was a great match, beating Jan so easy is a great achievement because he’s a great player so I am really happy. The atmosphere was also really good and warm.”

In the final match of the night, Belgian’s David Goffin rallied with Lucas Pouille of France. Goffin took the final place in tomorrow night’s semi-finals beating Pouille 6-2 6-4.

After the match, Goffin commented: “Super organisation – the stadium is very nice. First time for me playing in Saudi, it’s a great atmosphere. I think for the people tonight it was something to see, professional tennis matches here. I think it was great for us and them as well. It’s a nice court and stadium – it could be a very nice center court in a big tournament.”

Today’s results will see Fognini of Italy meet Monfils of France in semi-final 1 and Medvedev of Russia will take on Goffin of Belgium on Friday 13th December. The remaining four players will still continue to play as part of the Consolation Bracket. The Diriyah Tennis Cup will conclude with the final on Saturday 14th December.