The metronome is back, this time wearing his sincerity like a badge of honour. In the wake of his wife Jane’s death last June, Aussie pace legend Glenn McGrath had expressed apprehensions about resuming his Indian Premier League (IPL) stint even before the security issue blew up in his face. He spent the last few weeks being a fence-sitter, expressing an occasional doubt about the arrangements.
On Monday, though, he was criss-crossing the city to honour commercial commitments for the Delhi Daredevils, two day before he flies out to Johannesburg as part of a 24-member contingent. He even indulged in an ad shoot, with bare minimum security personnel for company, in a backroom at the Ferozeshah Kotla. He arrived with rookie T20 sensation David Warner, another Aussie who pooh-poohed security concerns.
McGrath, though, is not one to shy away from the plain-speak. Why is he here at all? Wouldn’t it have been easier to join the camp in South Africa, given the strident objections of Federations of International Cricketers Association (FICA) chief Tim May on Aussie cricketers visiting the subcontinent?
‘‘Look, mate, I didn’t have a choice,’’ McGrath told TOI without batting an eyelid, ‘‘As professionals we are expected to fulfill certain commitments. It’s unfortunate the way things have panned out in the subcontinent, with the Pakistani cricketers suffering the most.
‘‘I had doubts. Sitting in Australia it’s difficult to gauge the exact situation here. It’s certainly changed from the last time I was here. But it’s difficult to say no to IPL commitments. There’s the money and then there’s the chance to get back to some action. I’ll miss playing in India, I’m so popular here.’’
Warner, though, is younger, less circumspect. “The security situation is the same everywhere. No one can provide foolproof security,” he said. “I can play wherever I’m asked to.”
At a send-off ceremony in the evening, McGrath disclosed how Jane’s death and the prospect of leaving his children behind weighed heavier on his mind than the security. ‘‘My two kids are with the grandfather, but they don’t like it one bit,’’ he said, ‘‘Eight weeks away is a long time. It’s been a very difficult time for me.’’
All factors aside, the keen competitor in McGrath is itching to get back to action: ‘‘The pitches in SA will suit my style. I’ve been doing some gym work but I need to bowl more. T20 is a short game but it requires more focus, more intensity. The training you do before a game is the same, whatever the format. If I had to bowl any more than four overs a game, I’d have to rethink.”