Was disappointed Varun Aaron was not in World Cup squad: McGrath

Impressed by Varun Aaron's speed, Australian legend Glenn McGrath today said he was disappointed at the fast bowler's omission from India's World Cup squad and predicted that the pacer will be around on the international scene for a long time.

According to the New South Welshman, who finished his career with a staggering 563 wickets in 124 Tests at just 21.64 per victim, both Aaron, whom the Australian had tutored for a while, and Umesh Yadav should always be part of the Indian team as they can both bowl in excess of 150 kph.

Varun AaronVarun Aaron

"I was a little bit disappointed that Varun Aaron did not make the World Cup squad. He can bowl at good pace, swings the ball nicely, I think he will be around for a long time," McGrath told PTI in an interview.

"I will put Aaron and Yadav in the same team -- two guys who can bowl at 150kph. If you got consistency with that pace you can do some damage. I thought Yadav had a fair series. He seemed to play better when they got to the World Cup," said McGrath, who is here as brand ambassador of Australia's Hardys Wines for their Indian distributors Sula Selections.

When pointed out the two bowlers were a little bit inaccurate at times, McGrath said the solution lay not in asking them to cut down in pace but to work harder during net practice for gaining the necessary accuracy.

"(Inaccuracy) is just one of those things. I hate seeing guys bowl slower to get a little bit more control. Obviously you need control and that's how you build pressure and get wickets. But if you are slowing down to get that control, I am not a big fan. I would rather see the guys do a lot more work in the nets to get that control - target bowling.

"I would like to see bowlers do a little bit more work in the nets, target practice, building up that consistency. You saw what Mitchell Johnson did for Australia. He was bowling upwards of 150k and did not lose any pace but he got that control. Soon as he got control with that pace he became lethal," he noted.

Even with the exponential growth of T20 cricket, which has changed cricket's landscape, with batsmen uncorking quite a few innovative shots, McGrath - who was part of three of Australia's victorious World Cup squads - feels bowlers can still exercise controls by bowling good yorkers.

"Since (the advent of) T20 cricket, batting has improved with new innovative shots while the bowlers' skill level has gone down slightly because they don't have that consistency. I still think if you can bowl consistent yorkers
you can be successful.

"You have seen Mitchell Starc (of Australia) in the World Cup and how well he bowled those yorkers and was the player of the tournament. (Sri Lanka's Lasith) Malinga is another guy who bowls very good yorkers and is successful at T20 and in the shorter versions of the game.

"You do need variety and you do need to hit the 3/4th lengths and bowl good yorkers. You can't just bowl top of off and just keep it there," said McGrath who picked up 381 wickets from 250 ODIs at a miserly average of 22.02.

"If you can bowl good yorkers outside the off stump it limits the scoring options. It's a lot tough for the bowlers (in limited overs cricket), but if they got the skill levels they can do well," he added.

The tall ex-pacer was impressed with the way the Indian squad, that failed to win any game in the preceding triseries in Australia, bounced back to enter the semi finals in the World Cup.

"To be honest, India impressed me as well (apart from champions Australia and runners-up New Zealand). Leading into the tournament they were struggling a bit and did not do well in the one day tournament.

"But come the World Cup they seemed to lift themselves. They got off to a good win against Pakistan in the first game. Played very well in semi finals against Australia but seemed to have conceded too many runs. Could not chase them down," he said.

McGrath, who first visited India to train at the MRF Pace Foundation in Chennai under Dennis Lilliee in 1992, thought the Indian fast bowlers did a good job in the mega event after a dismal show in the tri series.

"They did a very good job. They did not bowl well in the one day series but they lifted themselves soon and bowled good lines, took early wickets and put pressure on the opposition which they were not doing earlier. They looked good as a bowling unit (in the World Cup)," he remarked.

McGrath felt that Australia, after a string of poor results in past World T20 championships in sharp contrast to their brilliant run of four World Cup title wins in the last five editions, would do well when India hosts it in 2016.

"I think with the IPL here in India the Indians have really taken it on board. They know how to play the game. Australia have Big Bash League and a lot of Australians play in IPL.

"I like to think we will see Australia do better in the next T20 World Cup. Look at England. They are not involved in IPL at all, really. The more you play the more you get used to it.

"The Big Bash League is doing great things for our young guys coming through. Next T20 WC you will see a different Ausn side but the subcontinent sides, especially India, will still be very strong." While saying Indian maestro Sachin Tendulkar and West
Indian great Brian Lara are two of the best he had bowled to, McGrath added Rahul Dravid's name to the list by saying the Bengaluru stalwart, at times does not get the dues he deserves.

"Day in and day out you have to say they (Tendulkar and Lara) were two of the best players that I have bowled against. They are two of the greatest players of all time, it's hard to separate them. The fact that Sachin played for 24 years is just incredible, he was so mentally strong and technically correct.

"Another guy that deserves a lot more credit than probably what he does get is Rahul Dravid. He's a quality player. If you had to have someone batting for your life in those three you want him to go in there. He's definitely up there," McGrath gushed.

McGrath, 45 was of the opinion that his former captain Ricky Ponting was his pick for playing the short ball. "Ricky is definitely up there (too), the way he played the short ball. I don't think anyone played that as well as Ricky did. He was in my team, so I did not bowl to him too often, barring occasionally when he played for Tasmania and I played for New South Wales.

Though he praised Virender Sehwag for his audacious strokeplay, McGrath said the Delhi dasher was not in the same league as the others he had mentioned. "Sehwag is an exciting player, people like to come to watch him. If he bats for a while he's going to score runs, is it not. I tried to use that aggression against him. He's a quality player, quick in scoring, but I don't think he's in the same category as Lara and Tendulkar," said the former Australia pace spearhead.

McGrath is now connected with the MRF Pace Academy as its director and talked about his experience when he trained there under the great Lillee and honed his skills, saying the lot of young fast bowlers and spinners from his country who are to visit Chennai soon would benefit from their stint.

"I enjoyed coming over here in 1992 and working with Dennis Lillee. It gave me a lot and helped me when I came over here next time. A few of the Indian boys do come over to Australia too. There is good connection between the two countries.

"I am also the cricket ambassador for Hardys (wines). I am over here (Mumbai) for four days, then am going to my role at MRF Pace Foundation in Chennai. I spend a minimum of six weeks in India. My wife loves it. I have spent a lot of time over last 20 odd years, on an average once a year," he added.

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