Toyota GB’s works cricket team may not quite be up to Ashes level, but thanks to the generosity of Australian bowling legend Glenn McGrath they can claim to have been one of the most feared amateur sides in the country, if only for an hour or so.
McGrath, widely recognised as one of the greatest bowlers of all time, helped Australia dominate world cricket in the 1990s and 2000s with a feared mix of speed, deadly accuracy and metronomic consistency.
But despite spending his career performing in some of cricket’s greatest venues, it was the more down-to-earth surroundings of Woodmansterne Cricket Club in Surrey where the 6ft 6in paceman turned out for Toyota Samurai, the casual cricket team from Toyota GB’s HQ.
In the UK commentating on the 2019 Ashes series for the BBC, Glenn, a Toyota ambassador in Australia, has been traversing the country in an all-new Toyota Camry hybrid. As a “thank you” he turned out for Toyota’s works team, his only demands being that there should be beer and a barbecue for everyone afterwards; requests the team were enthusiastically keen to comply with.
In another change from his usual experience, Glenn’s pre-game inspection of the wicket was shared with a number of dog walkers and a Staffordshire Bull Terrier rolling in the footmarks, but he declared the pitch “might do a bit if you can find a bowler who knows what he’s doing”.
Toyota Samurai team captain Alex Jensen, who is part of Toyota GB’s graduate scheme and plays as an all-rounder, said: “It was an honour and a privilege to step out onto the pitch with the legend of cricket that is Glenn McGrath. The whole team would like to say a huge thank you to Glenn for turning out to play for Toyota Samurai. He is a true gentleman who put a smile on everyone’s faces. I can now say that I have been caught and bowled by Glenn McGrath, a title usually reserved for the greats of our sport!”
In front of an enthusiastic crowd of club members and locals, Glenn bowled his longest spell in cricket for some years. Australian/English cricket rivalry is never far away though, so he did have to put up with many shouts of “no ball!” from the pavilion when he took a wicket, and the legendary McGrath hard stare was deployed at a number of sheepish batsmen who missed balls which would have got them out but were far too good for them to find an edge.
Glenn said: “I was a bit rusty but I really enjoyed turning my arm over, although I was a bit surprised by the extra bounce in the wicket. It was a great night amongst great people and a reminder that cricket is cricket, whatever level you play at, and the camaraderie is the same throughout the game.”
After the game players, members and locals flocked for autographs, selfies and team photos amid celebratory beers and food.
James Clark, Toyota GB’s Senior PR Manager, said: “I still can’t quite believe Glenn agreed to turn out for our side, and we owe him a massive thank you. The best part is that despite being one of the all-time greats of the game he is the most down-to-earth, friendly and fun guy you could wish to meet. Everyone had a brilliant night they’ll never forget. He was even complimentary about our barbecue, which is frankly even more surprising than him agreeing to play.”