McGrath begins Lord's reign of terror
Legendary Aussie made the 'Home of Cricket' his personal playground and a living nightmare for England on this day in 1997
21 June 2018, 04:29 PM AEST
It was the best figures in a Test innings by an Australian in more than 75 years ... and it was a big exclamation mark on a theory that many in the cricket world had been mulling over for some time: Glenn Donald McGrath was very much the real deal.
Overcast conditions in London provided a handy backdrop to McGrath's demolition job of England at Lord's back in 1997, with Mark Taylor electing to send England into bat after day one had been completely lost to rain.
Taylor didn't have to wait long to prove his decision correct.
Utilising the conditions at a venue he would grow to love throughout his decorated career, McGrath found his rhythm and set about systematically dismantling the England batting order.
In fact, it was only rain that got in his way, with day two cut short after McGrath had ripped out the hosts' top three - Mark Butcher, Mike Atherton and Alec Stewart - for a combined total of seven runs.
The Australia speedster returned the next morning in equally devastating form, taking another five wickets to finish with 8-38; the best innings figures in an Ashes Test at Lord's.
England, bowled out for 77 - their lowest total at the home of cricket in the 20th century - were left to theorise as to what might have gone wrong, particularly considering their comfortable victory in the first Test, while McGrath revealed the simple secret to his magic had been a conversation with the great Dennis Lillee.
"Dennis thought in the first Test I was trying too hard for pace and advised that I relaxed, stopped striving so hard and took my foot off the accelerator," McGrath said.
"I chose to play both matches between the two Tests and found the tips worked. I was always confident I would take wickets in this series."
Rain ultimately robbed Australia the chance of squaring the series, however Taylor's men would go on to retain the Ashes for an unprecedented fifth straight series, 3-2.
For McGrath, a love affair with Lord's was only just beginning.
In 2001, he claimed figures of 5-54 and 3-60 in an eight-wicket win for Australia.
Four years later, in the opening Test of the epic 2005 Ashes, McGrath took a remarkable five wickets for 11 runs late on day one to leave England reeling at 5-21 in response to Australia's 180.
The tourists went on to win the match but ultimately lost the series, with McGrath's absence due to injury proving telling; he was absent in the only two Tests Australia lost in the series.
This article originally ran on June 21, 2016 as 'On this day: McGrath takes 8-38'