Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting TANEWS to 80360, or email
Anthony McGrath reflects on ‘dream job’ at Yorkshire
Anthony McGrath has reflected on his retirement from cricket and admitted: It was the right time to go.
The Bradford-born former Yorkshire captain ended his successful 18-year playing career last month due to a persistent thumb injury dating back nearly seven years.
After two centuries in 13 County Championship matches last season, 37-year-old McGrath was desperate to play on.
Instead he finished with two domestic trophies, four Test and 14 one-day international caps and 20,675 runs and 240 wickets in all forms.
The Yorkshire legend is now taking his level three coaching badge alongside some media work.
McGrath explained: “The decision to finish was definitely tough. Ideally, with my form last year and getting back in Division One, I’d like to have played for another two or three years.
“Coming towards the end of last season, I thought with a bit of rest it would be fine. But with the medical advice I got, it was the right time to call it a day.”
A match-winning unbeaten 76 against Gloucestershire at Scarborough in August gave Yorkshire the impetus to clinch promotion, ensuring McGrath finished with a bang.
There have been many other highs, including the 2001 Championship win and 2002 C&G Trophy success against Somerset at Lord’s when he remembers Matthew Elliott’s brilliant century.
But Darren Lehmann’s 191 in a Sunday League match against Nottinghamshire at Scarborough two days after winning the Championship was as good a knock as he witnessed.
“We put on 172 and I was out for 38,” said McGrath, having confirmed that Lehmann continued their Championship celebrations from the Friday right up to walking out to bat by drinking champagne from his helmet.
“That day he had a bigger freedom than usual. It was incredible to be at the other end.
“I remember if I hit a four or took more than one off a ball, he would tell me off because I didn’t get him on strike!”
Debuting in a Lord’s Test in 2003 was another high, although McGrath did not play as many Tests as he hoped, having scored 201 runs from five innings against Zimbabwe and South Africa.
“To make your England debut at Lord’s when all your family’s there, it was right up there,” he said.
“It did rankle with me a little bit that I didn’t play more. But if you’d said ‘you can play four Tests or none’, I’d have taken the four. I was lucky enough to play for the best part of 20 years and play some international cricket.”
Among the lows, the winter of 2006-07 – when he nearly left Headingley after disagreeing with the club over their future direction – stands out.
McGrath recalled: “That was one tough winter. It was a tough time for the team between 2004 to 2006 with a lot of change.
“It wasn’t really a happy time and we weren’t performing that well. There were a lot of things going on behind the scenes.
“We were in a bit of limbo without a chief executive, then a new one (Stewart Regan) coming in, and a lot of players weren’t happy.
“Things were brought to a head at the end of 2006. It was Lehmann’s last season, Richard Dawson left, Michael Lumb left and Mitchell Claydon left.
“I just thought we’d taken our eyes off the ball in terms of being a good cricket team. It seemed to be more about being a business, so I raised the issues.
“Initially the club didn’t agree. After a couple of meetings, I just felt it best if I left because I couldn’t see a solution.
“It was as late as February that I was convinced I was going. Ideally I knew I didn’t want to leave but I felt that it was impossible to carry on with the club’s structure.
“I was away with the Lord’s Taverners in Dubai and got a call from Darren Gough to say he was coming back as captain. He said he realised the issues that me and a lot of other players had and that he fully agreed with what I was saying.
“He wanted us to get back to what we all thought Yorkshire needed. From that point I said ‘I’m under contract and believe what you’re saying, so I will stay’.”
But what will McGrath miss the most about playing for Yorkshire?
He said: “It goes without saying that I’ll miss the game but most of my happy memories are within the dressing room or on the coach after we’ve won. It was my dream job.”