Glenn McGrath is the most prolific fast bowler in the history of test cricket and from a shy, country boy to a leading member of the all-conquering Australian from the mid 1990s to mid 2000s, his cricketing story is a fascinating one. It's told with humour and humility and reflects McGrath's love of the game, his intelligent cricketing brain, his will to win and the comradeship he felt with his fellow players. However, it's much more than that. He speaks candidly about his wife's struggles against cancer and their determination to support each other and to use their public status to raise money to fund specialist nurses across Australia. Their commitment to each other, their children and fellow sufferers shines through and is a wonderful example of celebrity status being used for a greater good. Although the book was written prior to Jane's death, a postscript deals with this and speaks warmly of her life and Glenn's desire that their children remember her with love and happiness. This isn't really an autobiography; it's narrated by McGrath's co-writer, but this allows contributions from many cricketers, coaches, friends and supporters to be woven in smoothly. A highly recommended read.
Glenn McGrath is one of the gods of cricket. Most cricket lovers already knew that. But this book takes us on a journey in to the mindset of the greatest fast bowler of the past twenty years. What was really fascinating is the early years. The pages that describe the young Glenn, practicing the art of swing bowling, all by himself under the heat of the Australian sun is worthy of a Baz Luhrman movie.
The story of Glenn McGrath is brilliantly narrated by Daniel Lane. It becomes an inspiring portrait of a shy boy who was determined to make a mark on this world with an obsessive work ethic. Lane writes:
"Glenn McGrath, the boy who couldn't bowl. But the boy learned to bowl, improving his accuracy during his lonely training sessions, never bothering to tell anyone...that the reason he spent those hours finetuning his style was that he knew one day he'd play for Australia. It was as certain for him as the fact that the sunrise would bring the promise of even more back-breaking labour. His long hours were inspired by some words of wisdom the South African golfer Gary Player once offered a supporter who wished he could hit the ball like Player. 'Go hit a thousand balls a day and you will,' was the champion's reply."
There are many passages like these that concurrently evoke the golden age of Australian cricket. McGrath's rise and dominance as a genius of fast bowling mirror the lives of the other great Australian cricketers from 1990 to 2007. This book covers McGrath's relationships with the likes of the Waugh Brothers, Adam Gilchrist, Shane Warne and the men who formed the "Fast Bowlers' Cartel"
If you love cricket, you don't have to be an Australian to find this book a real inspiration. Now that we are at a time when Australian cricket is going through a painful decline, this book is an interesting reminder of a man who rose to greatness during Australia's last horrible cricket depression back in the mid-1980s. 'Line And Strength,' just like many other great books about sports stars, transcends its genre and becomes a revitalising book of self-improvement. One can achieve great things with an incredible work ethic and positivity. Just read this story of Glenn McGrath.
There is no doubting Glenn McGrath's cricketing prowess and ability as one of the best opening bowlers in the world. He is celebrated the world over and most importantly, by his peers and his family.
Despite this memoir being a few years on from publication, it still holds relevance as a story of a man with an ambition, living in a farming community who later reached his dream of playing cricket for Australia. It was not about the money or the fame, bowling was what he could and loved to do.
Anecdotes and insights into the man are many. My particular favourites were those about his shyness at school, which led to him leaving early to avoid any public speaking. This is ironic, considering the fact that I bought this book because of his great radio commentary during the last Ashes series. Now speaking to an audience of millions, is a huge leap from stage fright at school.
He loves reading, has been compared to Crocodile Dundee and lived in a caravan for thirteen months to save money when he first moved to Sidney. I can't imagine what it would have been like for him to play cricket on a food budget that forced him to eat a Mars bar for dinner. I was touched at the thought that he gave his mother a team autographed bat to contribute towards the cost of her flight to Perth to watch his first State game.
The background to his meeting his wife Jane is endearing and human, especially since initially she thought she wasn't the only women in his life. A brave women to visit him without knowing anything of a professional cricketers lifestyle and braver still when she took on a battle with cancer. The bond between the couple is evident when they elected to stand together in sickness and in health prior to their marriage. I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been for both of them to endure the cycles of hope and anger at the challenges they endured, especially when he was away working.
I was also interested in the comments about the Fast Bowlers Club, a band of brothers who understood each others frustrations, especially with injury. The warts and all stories of Glenn exploding with Sarwan, altercations with Lara and his short pitched bowling to the Windies tale enders were surprising. Fair play to him, he stood his ground when he felt he was wrong and showed remorse when he behaved badly. The Kiwi balloons incident too being a case in point.
Not being an Australian, I have not been familiar with any media stories that must have built a perception of the man. I only knew him as a quiet, effective and formidable competitor on the TV screen. This book reads easily and if I have one minor criticism, is the writing style of making a point in the third person and then following it up with a substantial number of first person quotations. For many, this may give the book substance and creditability. At times, I found this rhythm repetitive. (hence four stars)
McGrath is no saint nor is he a sinner any worse than the rest of us, yet two facts made me reflect positively on his legacy more than the incredible bowling statistics. The first being the fact that his legacy from the McGrath Foundation will surpass any of his on field exploits which says a lot for his concern for many. The story where he shows concern for one, is depicted in his gift of his precious baggy green to his fitness coach. Both the mark of a great contributor to life I think.
Read this book, cricket fan or not. It has inspiration, courage and humility to share over and above the basics of a simple bowling technique, to be one of the best athletes in the world.
I always liked McGrath as a cricketer- hard nosed, aggressive, superb bowler- but hated the fact he was Australian because he was always taking English wickets! His media persona was always that of a spiky stereotypical Aussie but this book reveals his non cricketing side. I knew about his wife's illness but did not realise how long they both went through the ordeals cancer puts you through. A non typical sports biography because other, far more important, aspects of his life dominate the book. For him and his family I wish it had been more straight forward and less painful. I held McGrath in high esteem as a cricketer. This book makes you realise how great a man he is as well. A raw and honest account of facing adversity.
Glenn McGrath is one of, if not THE finest pace bowler in cricket history. The book charts his rise from outback cricket to the world dominating Australian side. But it also is far more in depth. As someone who follows the sport and has long been frustrated with the apparent ease with which McGrath and Co regularly demolished English batting line-ups, it is interesting to read the in-depth look at McGrath's life, particularly the immense strength he had to show with the challenges in his personal life. I would be interested to read a further update on his life after cricket, particularly when he lost his wife to cancer and has since remarried, but continues to work hard for the charities he mentions in the book. The book is written with McGrath in the third person, as more of a commentary than an autobiography. Well worth a read for anyone with an interest in either cricket, or someone who has perhaps been close to someone suffering from cancer - it might just give some inspiration.
A truly brilliant man. Glen McGrath deserves every bit of respect he is granted. Within these brilliant pages you will find not only his amazing story of how he reached his dream through determination and hard work but also how he and his wife Jane fought fearsly against her cancer. Huge respect for both Glen McGrath and Jane McGrath and also his two children. A must read for any cricket lover.
I loved this book from start to finish. Glenn and Jane McGrath = inspirational. It's an amazing account of what must have been truly difficult. It's also a great testament to the fact that if you aspire for something and you want it badly enough you will get it. It's the best piece of non-fiction I've ever read. I'll take so much away with me from reading this book
Glenn McGrath is my all-time cricket hero, greatest pace bowler in my opinion and the main reason I root for the Australian Cricket Team (even though I am a Pom). This book is a great read and wonderfully written by Daniel Lane. From Glenn's early life and accusations that he couldn't bowl to his late wife's Jane and her struggle and early triumph against breast cancer. Many great sports stars go through trying, heart wrenching times, but none quite like Glenn has.
I thoroughly recommend this book, even if you aren't a cricket fan. It's a top read about a top bloke who ruled cricket in the 1990's and early 2000's as the aggressive pace bowler for Australia who took nearly every opponent to pieces whilst discussing real life, moving issues during his early life and career. OOH AAH it's a great book about Pigeon.
Finally, be sure to check out the McGrath Foundation; [...] to learn more about the foundation, Jane and their battle against breast cancer.