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Australia will win Test series 2-0 and one dayers 4-1: Greg Matthews
Staff Reporter - 2 March 2001

Greg Matthews is well known in India - as an enigmatic personality, a capable all rounder and one of the heroes of Tied Test II. Back in this country as a member of the radio commentary team with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Matthews, now 41, spoke to CricInfo in Mumbai midway through the first Test.

Q: Can you tell us something about your International debut?

A: It was at Christmas in 1983 against Pakistan that I made my debut for Australia playing with greats like Dennis Lillee, the Chappells, Kim Hughes, Allan Border and Rod Marsh. It was a special moment in my life since playing for your country is second only to your wife and family. It was a tremendous feeling and I was thrilled to be there. I felt a deep sense of pride when I wore the baggy green.

Q: Could you relive that Tied test in Chennai. What was on your mind in that last over?

A: I remember that vividly. I remember I was very conscious of the fact that it was a piece of history. We had performed exceptionally well over the course of the five days in very adverse and difficult conditions. I was very keen not to let my side down, not to let myself down or my country. I was fortunate that I pitched it through a bit quicker and it bit and hit Maninder on the ankle right in front of middle stump and the umpire had the courage to give him out.

Q: Do you think the umpire was under pressure or was he feeling nervous?

A: No, I don't think he was nervous. I bowled 40 overs from his end unbroken and the umpire at my end had an exceptionally good game. I found him very fair which is all you can ask for. I had no doubt about him or anything in that match.

Q: Ravi Shastri and Maninder Singh exploded after that decision. Do you justify cricketers expressing themselves on the field like they did?

A: Some players are exceptionally passionate and it's not as if it is premeditated. It's just a spontaneous moment. I can remember Pandit running between the wickets and I thought he deliberately tried to take me out. So when I dismissed him we had a few heavy words at the drinks break. I even walked halfway off the field with him saying not so many sweet things to him but then I suddenly snapped out of it and said good luck for the future after the match. It was a very tense match with conditions that were extremely difficult. The heat and humidity were devastating. Border had some discussions with the umpire who at one stage said he was going to send him off. Border turned to David Boon and asked him if the umpire could do that. Boon just shrugged his shoulders and said he did not know. I did not stick my nose into it and I didn't have a giggle about it then, but I have a giggle now when I think about it.

Q: Australia has always come up with innovations to improve the game. Why is it that it's always the Australians who do this?

A: It's about raising the bar. We are always striving for perfection, to take the next step. To go where no man has ever gone before. Australia has been very fortunate to have had three really good men in this regard. Border is a great man, a really genuine man. Mark Taylor comes from a very generous stock, he a good technician, a good motivator, a man's man. And Steve Waugh along with coach Buchanan has raised that bar a bit further.

Q: How much has the Australian Cricket Academy helped in strengthening the Australian bench?

A: It's played a very small part and not a very significant role. By the time the players get to the academy they are a talented lot. It's not that we pick guys from the streets and puff them up and smoothen them over to make Test players. The real nursery of Australian cricket is the Sheffield Shield. There is intense competition, we only play each other twice in the entire season. Ten matches. It is really tough cricket, very hard cricket, unlike county cricket, where you're playing every day for example. The wickets vary enormously, we have very hard, fast wickets in Perth, seaming ones at Melbourne and Brisbane. Sydney turns a bit sometimes. So we have a diverse range of grounds on which to cultivate your skills on.

Q: Your views on the current Australian team in India?

A: Glenn McGrath stands shoulder to shoulder with Dennis Lillee as probably the greatest fast bowler Australia has produced. We have a swing bowler in Damien Fleming, a dynamic bowler in Jason Gillespie who bowls quite fast. We have two world class spinners, Colin Miller has been a revelation in his twilight years so to speak. I think he has a good five years to go. Michael Slater is special. Matthew Hayden has shown what a tremendous future he has in the game. Adam Gilchrist is the best Number seven batsmen in the history of the game. Any side with the Waugh brothers has a distinct advantage. Justin Langer is a fighter, that tenacious tough man who bats a number three, and who holds things together. Ponting is dynamic with the bat, he is dynamic in the field. Our fielding is the best in the world, we don't miss many chances. Mark Waugh is the best slip fielder in the world. The pressure is continuously on the opposition.

Q: Your views on the Indian team facing up to Steve Waugh's Invincibles.

A: They are a very talented side. I saw Laxman score 167 out of the 250 scored in the last series in Australia. Australia are yet to see the best of Rahul Dravid and of captain Sourav Ganguly but their records are fantastic. Both of them average 50 plus at Test match level. Tendulkar is a very gifted player and a special player. I wish them all luck for the future but I hope they don't enjoy too much success against Australia in this series because this is a very special time for us.

Q: Can you tell us which was the best moment of your cricket career?

A: Without doubt the Tied Test, I would say. I had the whole country on my shoulders. Second, I would have to say is a toss up between my first Test hundred, when I hit a six and my wife was there to share that moment with me and the Test match win in Sri Lanka. It was the greatest first innings deficit that Australia overcame to win the Test match and that was the only time I was ever named Man of the Match, so that is very special to me as well.

Q: You helped Shane Warne early in his career. What did you forsee in him?

A: Yeah I saw him in a game I scored a hundred and I did say that this guy would go on to play for Australia and pick up more than 200 Test wickets. He had a bad time in India and then later toured Sri Lanka. Both India and Sri Lanka had very good batsmen who played the spinners very well. I think in the first innings Warne was hit for something like 120 runs without much success. Later I tried to convince Border to give him a bowl but he did not agree. Then we went out and had a talk and I saw Border toss the ball to Warne the next day. I was glad when Warne took three wickets and we won the game. I was happy that I gave him the confidence to come back well.

Q: You have always had a good sense of prediction. Can you predict the outcome of this series?

A: Well, it will be 2-0 in favour of Australia and the One dayers would be 4-1 in favour of Australia. I also think Colin Miller will play the second Test and the Indian batsmen will find him very hard to get away.

© CricInfo

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