McGrath’s ‘amazing’ prediction resurfaces

While travelling South Africa in 2003, former Australian pace bowler Glenn McGrath made a bold prediction about a local teenager which turned out be completely true.

During the 2003 Cricket World Cup, McGrath and a few teammates - including Jason Gillespie and Brett Lee - were tasked with coaching a group of teenage pace bowlers in Pretoria.

McGrath wrote about the experience in his book World Cup Diary, and identified one 17-year-old as "someone to look out for in the future".

 

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"There are some promising fast bowlers among them; they all have good action and bowl with some pace," McGrath wrote.

"The one standout is a left armer, whose hero is Allan Donald - you can tell by the way he follows through, a mirror image of AD.

"His name is Neil Wagenaar and he'll be someone to look out for it the future."

Australia won the 2003 Cricket World Cup after defeating India in the final in Johannesburg.
Australia won the 2003 Cricket World Cup after defeating India in the final in Johannesburg.

Despite the incorrect spelling, McGrath was indeed referring to current Black Caps player Neil Wagner, who is currently ranked the world's second best Test bowler behind Australia's Pat Cummins.

 

Wagner migrated to New Zealand in 2008 to pursue a career in cricket, and made his Test debut four years later. Since then, the firey left-armer has taken 204 Test wickets at a stellar average of 26.63.

He is currently the seventh highest wicket-taker for New Zealand in Test history, quickly closing in on Chris Cairns and Chris Martin.

The 33-year-old was also New Zealand's highest wicket-taker during the recent Trans Tasman series, where he claimed 17 scalps at 22.76. He has dismissed Steve Smith - the best since Bradman - five times in four Test matches.

 

Wagner had no idea McGrath had made those comments about his bowling in 2003, and thought it was "amazing" the cricket great even remembered him.

"Didn't know this! Amazing and extremely kind!" Wagner posted on Twitter.

"Remember how awesome @glennmcgrath11 @BrettLee_58 was! Carried my bag back to my parents car! Feels like yesterday!

"Pretty awesome memory and so cool to see them both a month ago in the middle of the SCG!"

Neil Wagner was undeniably New Zealand’s strongest performer during the 2019/20 tour of Australia
Neil Wagner was undeniably New Zealand’s strongest performer during the 2019/20 tour of Australia

Wagner featured in the recent SCG New Year's Pink Test, where he handed McGrath a signed cap in support of breast cancer research.

New Zealand face cricket giants India in a two-Test series later this month, starting on Friday, 21st February in Wellington.