False Negative

It amuses me to imagine Glen McGrath walking past the stumps at the end of the 14th over against New Zealand, bending down a little and saying into the stump mike “That’s three for, Thommo. Not bad, hey?” (Scott Muller style). Oo Ah Glen McGrath seems to back. Maybe it was just a matter of enough time. Perhaps the sting of some criticism added a little extra incentive. But I’d doubt it. A few ordinary results in one day matches after nine months off is nothing but a false negative.

I’m no psychologist but I’ll try to explain. If, say, a child does really well in an IQ test (say a WISK IV) then they are a genius. There is no such thing as a false positive. You can’t fluke a good result or get it by accident – it isn’t multiple choice! However, a poor result doesn’t necessarily mean the child is slow. A child could under perform simply because they are sick, distracted (for emotional or other reasons), or simply because the test isn’t suited to them. That is referred to as a false negative. Well, I’m sure that’s over simplifying it but I hope you catch my drift.

One Day cricket lends itself to false negatives, especially for a strike bowler of McGrath’s style. McGrath favours a track with bounce (not usually delivered in a one day match) and a shiny, hard, red ball. It helps if there is a slip cordon for the edges to be caught. If a batsman decides to chance his arm, he only has to last for a few overs to see a good bowler out. There is no such thing as the long haul in one day cricket. My opinion was that McGrath would have been better served doing some hard work for the NSW Blues. However, he and the selectors chose this path and after two successive excellent performances, it appears to have worked.

Let me say that Thommo and Henry have been a little harshly treated by the media. Neither made comments of any malicious intent. Both were stating the obvious – McGrath will be over the hill one day and this may be it. I wasn’t worried – McGrath has had lengthy absences in the past due to an ankle injury and previous troubles for his wife. He was slow to hit top form coming back on at least one of the occasions. He has also been slow starter in past Australian summers. In response to Thommo and Lawson, that wise old sage, Richie Benaud (a HUGE McGrath fan), made the point that he would be troubled if McGrath was at his best already. All champions know when to peak and for McGrath, that will be on 23 November. I hope Richie never dies.

Anyway, whatever. Who cares. He’s back. 21 days to go. For those of you who live in Sydney, especially if you missed out on Test tickets, note that NSW plays England at the SCG, starting on Sunday, 12 November. NSW will most likely field a Test strength bowling attack with McGrath needing time in the middle and MacGill and Clark pressing for selection. I haven’t had a chance to catch up with Bing recently so I’m not sure if he will play.

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