As the years have gone by, one bowler who has risen sharply in my esteem is Glenn McGrath. Having followed his initial career through scorecards and match reports I had built an image of a metronomic bowler who invariably won the battle of attrition. In the past few years I have had a chance to see him bowl in many different settings and realized that he is much more than a metronome, he actually hunts with a plan.
Slowly and silently (though sadly, he does occasionally resort to ugly verbal volleys) he sets up the batsman and lulls him into a false sense of security. And when the batsman lets his guard down - in a flash the man strikes again.
And lest you think he feeds on meek tailenders - he is at his best when bowling to the top order. In fact he is better at prising out top batsmen than any other fast bowler in the game's history (among those who have taken at least 300 Test wickets).
And how vital is he to the Aussie team? In the recent Ashes series, he did not play 2 Test matches and Australia lost both of them. In the 3 Tests he played, Australia won 1 and drew two.
When McGrath claimed his 500th Test victim, Peter Roebuck wrote this ode to him.