/ 27 April 2007

McGrath and Jayasuriya in battle of golden oldies

Sri Lanka’s Sanath Jayasuriya and Australian paceman Glenn McGrath will be playing their last World Cup match on Saturday.

But only one of them will be celebrating at the end of the 2007 final.

The pair have been looking at their best, with left-handed opener Jayasuriya, a survivor of the 1996 World Cup-winning team, showing off his big-hitting in the early overs and McGrath displaying his disciplined pace and subtle variations.

Discipline is McGrath’s virtue.

He is the leading wicket-taker in the ongoing tournament, with 25 victims in 10 matches to underline yet again that age is no bar to success. He may be 37-years-old but he is performing with the enthusiasm of a youngster.

”The fact that I’m going to retire is probably one of the reasons I’m bowling so well, because I just go out there, try and enjoy it, make the most of it. Make the most of every game I play,” said McGrath.

”There’s no pressure, no fear and it’s coming out well. I guess when you’re playing in a successful team, it does make it a lot easier.”

McGrath has a knack of getting big wickets in important matches, which has stood his team in good stead. He has always been instrumental in his side gaining the early initiative with his probing line and length.

He was named man of the match after finishing with 3-18 off eight tight overs in the semifinal win over South Africa in St Lucia.

”He [McGrath] keeps is pretty simple whether it’s action or approach. He keeps delivering and it’s unbelievable,” said John Buchanan, who is stepping down as Australia coach after this tournament.

Like McGrath, Jayasuriya has also proved that he is getting better and better with each year.

The Sri Lankan was the revelation of the 1996 World Cup in the sub-continent when he redefined batting in early overs with his over-the-top hitting.

Jayasuriya owed his success to skipper Arjuna Ranatunga.

He had been batting in the middle order before being asked to open the innings and it was a tribute to his skill that he did not let his captain down. He was named Player of the World Cup in 1996.

Jayasuriya was the skipper of the Sri Lankan side that lost to Australia by 48 runs in the semifinal of the 2003 edition in South Africa, but was willing to continue as player when stripped of the captaincy.

He has already hammered centuries against Bangladesh and the West Indies in the ongoing tournament, proving he is keen to cap his international career with a title under his belt.

”I want to finish the World Cup on a high note. I haven’t planned beyond this tournament. Although I have 25 centuries, I’ll never forget the one against the West Indies [in a Super Eights game],” said Jayasuriya.

Jayasuriya is the second-highest scorer in one-day internationals with 11 942 runs, behind only India’s Sachin Tendulkar (14 847). — Sapa-AFP