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Wednesday, May 5, 1999 Published at 16:08 GMT 17:08 UK

Sport: Cricket

McGrath tempted by county game

A familiar sight as Glenn McGrath celebrates another wicket

Australian paceman Glenn McGrath has indicated that he could be persuaded to play county cricket next season.

McGrath, scourge of English batsmen in successive Ashes Test series, has already held talks with interested clubs and would be a prize catch for any county side.

"County cricket is an option for me - it is something I would like to do," McGrath said on Wednesday.

"I'm talking to a few clubs at the moment, and my manager is coming over shortly to see whether or not I will come to England in the 2000 season."

McGrath has taken advice from West Indies record Test wicket-taker Courtney Walsh and South African speedster Allan Donald about what he might expect in English cricket.

Former Gloucestershire captain Walsh and Warwickshire favourite Donald enjoyed illustrious careers in the English domestic game, and McGrath would clearly love to follow suit.

Non-stop cricket

"I look at guys like Courtney and Allan Donald - they played a lot of county cricket and just seemed to be able to keep going and going," McGrath said.

"Maybe there is a secret behind playing cricket 12 months a year. I feel that during pre-season, you are at a bigger danger of picking up injuries, and maybe if you play all year around, then you take out that injury risk.

"I had a chat with Courtney recently during our West Indies tour about the specific demands of English county cricket, and it is something I would really look forward to and enjoy doing."

Predictably, once McGrath's advisors made his interest known, it sparked a scramble among English counties keen for his match-winning services.

"It was a good response when we let the counties know that I was interested in coming over here, but we will see how things go during the next couple of months."

'We aim to win'

McGrath and the Australian squad have already settled into their Cardiff base - ahead of this weekend's opening World Cup warm-up match against Glamorgan at Sophia Gardens.

And, far removed from the bottle-throwing, crazy Caribbean, skipper Steve Waugh and his players looked relaxed and confident.

[ image: Steve Waugh: Treating the tournament as the ultimate challenge]
Steve Waugh: Treating the tournament as the ultimate challenge
"This is the best balance squad I've been part of during my 15 years of Australian cricket," Waugh said.

"The World Cup is the Holy Grail in terms of one-day cricket, and we are treating as the ultimate challenge.

"Our preparations have been excellent, and I think that we've got a pretty good chance of doing well."

Although Australia find themselves in the toughest group alongside Pakistan, West Indies and New Zealand, former Somerset all-rounder Waugh is comfortable with the favourite's tag.

"If people want to make us favourites, then that's fine. We know that it is down to us to do it on the day, and we are shaping up well - our first couple of training sessions have been excellent."

Australia play warm-up games against Glamorgan, Worcestershire and Somerset before launching their World Cup campaign against minnows Scotland at Worcester on May 16.

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