Australian cricket legend Glenn McGrath is warming up for next summer’s Ashes series by joining the Test Match Special team for a very special live theatre tour.
Glenn, who will be joined on tour by ‘The Voice of Cricket’ Jonathan ‘Aggers’ Agnew, is a man known for pulling few punches. So, it is perhaps no surprise to hear he firmly believes his countrymen will whitewash England in next summer’s Ashes.
He said: “I’m going to go out on a limb this time and say 5-0. If I predicted anything else, everyone would be disappointed!
“I think Australia can play well in each game and win each one. It’s my bit of banter with England that we’re going to win 5-0, and if we lose the first one, then we’ll win 4-1!”
Straight-talking Glenn cannot wait to hit the road with Aggers for TMS Live 2023 to deliver plenty of Ashes anecdotes, hilarious stories and great memories of classic matches, as well as looking ahead to this summer’s eagerly awaited 73rd Ashes series.
Glenn, who took 563 wickets in a stellar career, including 157 against England, added: “I’m really looking forward to touring the UK with Aggers to talk all things Ashes, share some of my experiences and look ahead to the summer’s Test action.
“I’ve been good mates with Aggers for a long time. He was a fast bowler as well, so we have a similar sort of mindset and attitude… though I’m yet to meet a fast bowler, that’s not a good bloke!
“Aggers is very passionate about the game, very emotional and a great commentator. I think his voice epitomises everything that’s great about TMS.”
Since its inception in 1957, TMS has followed thousands of matches through iconic voices that include John Arlott, Brian Johnston, Aggers and Sir Geoffrey Boycott. Each combining wisdom and wit for their loyal fans.
TMS’s debut theatre tour in early 2022 was a huge success, selling out venues across the country and delighting the BBC radio show’s legions of fans.
As well as reliving the finest moments from Ashes history and facing audience questions, Glenn and Aggers will be joined by some very special guests to provide candid and forthright opinions on the issues facing cricket today.
Glenn is clearly as much a fan of TMS as those who will be in the audience on the tour.
He explained: “With TV, you have a picture that tells you what is happening – with radio, you have to paint the picture. The way Aggers and others do it, you can be in your car or at home, but they take you right there, and you can feel the atmosphere.
“Aggers and the whole crew are amazing, and being one of the only Aussies during the Ashes coverage, I’m definitely going to cop a bit of stick. And with the different guests lined up for the tour, TMS Live is going to be a lot of fun!”
Glenn, now 52, has plenty of Ashes memories of his own he will share throughout the tour.
Among his favourites, and perhaps this is no surprise, came on 19 June 1997. That was the day Glenn made his Lords debut in an Ashes test and then promptly took 8-38 in England’s first innings!
He said: “My first test at Lords was incredible. It was the first time we came across the honours board system – I think every player wanted to get their name up there. And I managed it.
“There’s something unique and special about playing at Lords. Not only the slope across the ground but walking through the Long Room to the lunches – it is easily the best lunch in world cricket without a doubt!”
Nineteen of Glenn’s 157 English wickets were that of former England captain Mike Atherton – a world record for a bowler against one batsman.
“I guess I had the wood on poor old Athers,” he smiled. “It was just my style of bowling – hitting the deck, getting that bounce, a bit of seam movement – that helped me do well against him.
“I probably did have a psychological advantage over him towards the end. You can bowl good ones early and knock ’em over – it’s tough for an opening batsman. So sometimes you get the wood on someone, and it’s as much a mental battle as a physical skill battle.”
Physically, Glenn trained hard off the pitch, but it was an injury he suffered on the morning of the second test in the 2005 Ashes, which many felt was the turning point in the series, which Michael Vaughan’s England famously won 2-1.
Glenn was playing a warm-up game of rugby with Brad Haddin when he stood on a stray cricket ball, rupturing two ligaments. He said: “It was just one of those freak accidents. Whether we would have won the series, I don’t know. That‘s not for me to say.
“That was a pretty sour and dark moment in my career, although I do speak to a lot of English people, and they say it’s one of their favourite sporting memories of all time because they went on to win!”
One player who could be key to England’s chances in the Ashes is opening bowler James Anderson, who will turn 41 in July during the fifth test.
Glenn’s last wicket in test cricket was Anderson’s in 2007, and he was effusive in his praise for the ‘Burnley Express’, who has 667 test wickets.
He said: “I think his longevity, 170-plus tests, is absolutely incredible. The fact that he fronts up day in and day out is amazing.
“The fact he’s still bowling into his 40s still taking wickets is incredible. You’ve also got Broadie (Stuart Broad) on 150 plus tests. For Jimmy, it just goes to show his mental strength, work ethic and his ability to recover is absolutely incredible.”
Glenn is excited to see how big names and emerging players on both sides face up to the rigours of the Ashes cauldron. He added: “Steve Smith has come out recently saying he’s finding his form again. He had an incredible series last time over in England.
“There’s been a lot of talk about Cameron Green, and he’s a guy that I think has got huge potential. He’s 6ft 8ins and still growing and can bowl a heavy ball. He’s got good pace, gets good bounce and puts it in good areas. And he’s a proper batsman and a big powerful hitter.
“For England, with Ben Stokes leading the way, and with Brendon McCullum coming on board, they’re playing a real positive brand, which I think is brilliant. It’s allowed Joe Root to go back and play his own game and score plenty of runs. I’m looking forward to seeing how all the English players go.”
Before setting off to the UK for TMS Live in April, Glenn will be packing his Aussie-made Cadbury’s chocolate (‘It tastes better than your English Cadbury’s’) and his own pillow (‘If you’ve got a decent pillow, you’ll still get a good night’s sleep wherever you travel’).
One thing he won’t be bringing, though, is his whites.
Does he still play?
“No, I don’t… I’m not that silly!”
Test Match Special Live – The Ashes Special, with Jonathan Agnew and Glenn McGrath, tours the UK from 05 April.