One was a grafter with the bat, other one was a bowling machine, and the third one was a wicket taking juggernaut. All three left the game on the same day, same venue and with the same pride. What this can bring to the complexion of Aussie mighty unit, we leave it for little later. First of all, talk of the champions.
First the two who were less of genius but more of guts and determination. McGrath and Langer were not as natural as Warne was. Both stuck to their strengths and backed them with loads of dedication and determination. Langer had his limitations. He was more in the mould of Steve Waugh who also liked to make his runs in nudges, pushes and dabs, then hoicks and tonks. Steve Waugh’s captaincy also helped Langer immensely. Beginning of Langer was nothing more than sound, gritty character who liked to get on with his job without catching too much of attention. Steve Waugh as captain had brought the novel idea to start every test innings with a bang and score somewhere between 3-4 runs in an innings. Waugh is known for his ability to get what he wants from his players. From there, the transformation began for Langer. The Southpaw pounced hard on that opportunity. Flair suited him, and next best thing was camaraderie with Hayden suited him the most. After that he seldom missed any scoring opportunity. Anything on the offside at drivable length filled his mouth with water. Crashing of his ‘nudger’ image came at a rate of lightening. Best mate Matt Hayden and his partnership gave them the tag of the second most successful opening pair in the history of the game with a sterling average of 51.41 in 113 innings. Captaincy of Waugh made him such a hard nut to crack that he made 14 centuries under his command out of his aggregate 23 centuries. Leaving the game with legacy of workmanship and concentration, Langer will always be remembering as a great opener.
Other man who left the game with grace is Glenn McGrath. The tall, lanky and immaculate line and length pacer from New South Wales left a lengthy generation of fast bowlers behind him all around the globe who want to bowl off-stump line with lateral movement with military pace rather than developing themselves as tear-away fast bowlers. Thirteen years of nightmare for opening batsmen around the world is finally over at least in one version of the game with the Test retirement of McGrath. Teasing from Lara, Tendulkar, Dravid to Vaughan with his nagging stuff definitely makes him the most imposing medium pacer of last decade. If he has a new ball in his hand, then all you can expect is two to three wickets in the first burst. His selection of best players of opponent side and then planning their dismissals was an excellent tactical move of this pacer. Dismissed Atherton 19 times, Lara 15 times, Kallis 6 times, Vaughan 6 times, Tendulkar 6 times, Dravid 5 times and Inzamam 5 times vexing almost all top blokes of our time. He made several believe that pace is not everything to take wickets, and he proved more than once through his illustrious career. Last but not the least that left the game with indelible imprints on the game and secures his position in the annals of the game as the Bradman of bowlers.
Wizard, magician, spin-doctor, entertainer, showman, and what not and what not, Warne completely overshadowed any other bowler of our time with an aura and persona. 708 Test wickets which would be well passed surely by Muralitharan in the coming days, but can never overcome what Warne gave to the game and to the art of leg spin bowling. Warney is a man who enjoyed plethora of limelight in his playing days. Aussies will surely discover replacements of Langer and already find one of McGrath in the shape of Stuart Clark, but the million dollar question is that who will be filling boots of Warne? Difficult to find one! I dare say impossible to find one.